Amelia Earhart, the iconic and heroic American aviator, was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean (1928) and then the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (1932) — the second person to take this daring solo flight after Charles Lindbergh five years earlier. Thrilled to be "alone with the stars" during night flights she said that "the lure of flying is the lure of beauty."

Two early life experiences awakened in her the urge to fly. As a young adult, she went with a friend to a stunt-flying exhibition where a pilot dove his plane towards them. Amelia stood her ground, a thrill of excitement coursing through her. "I am sure he said to himself, 'Watch me make them scamper,' " she later recalled. "I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by." A few years later, a pilot invited her to ride with him, and by the time she got a few hundred feet off the ground, she knew she had to fly.

Amelia went on to break many aviation records. She also wrote 20 Hours 40 Minutes: Our Flight in the Friendship, which continues to be reprinted in new editions, and an autobiography, The Fun of It; she toured and gave lectures; she became aviation editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and vice president of public relations for a new airline; and in many other ways proved that in "jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower," women and men are equal.

It was a sad day for the world when -- only about 7,000 miles short of being the first woman to circle the world in a plane -- she and her navigator Fred Noonan lost radio contact in the mid-Pacific and disappeared. She was less than a month from her 40th birthday.

You can read her fascinating life story, see her achievements, and enjoy photos that show her determination and joy on her official website.


Amelia Earhart is a wonderful source of inspiration when you need courage and sheer willpower. Take one of her quotes to help you fly higher:

"Worry retards reaction and makes clear-cut decisions impossible."

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward."

"The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship."

Spiritual Practices

Earhart spent much of her life stepping forward to encourage and create opportunities for other women. As aviation editor for Cosmopolitan, she even encouraged mothers to let their daughters take flying lessons, an unusual opinion to express in the 1920s and '30s.

What is one thing you can do this week to help someone realize his or her potential? Perhaps you can listen to and validate the dreams of a child you know. Perhaps you can donate to a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged young people build skills for living fulfilling lives. Perhaps you have a dormant dream of your own that will gain new inspiration from Amelia Earhart's bold, unrestrained joy in life.