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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Modern-Day Amelia Earhart Circumnavigates The Globe

Amelia Rose Earhart takes a selfie in the cockpit during her around-the-world flight. (Courtesy Amelia Rose Earhart)

Amelia Rose Earhart takes a selfie in the cockpit during her around-the-world flight. (Courtesy Amelia Rose Earhart)

Amelia Earhart was born 117 years ago today. She disappeared in July 1937 over the South Pacific, attempting to fly solo around the globe.

Earlier this month, another Amelia Earhart — no relation — completed a similar flight, and became the youngest woman to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world.

This Earhart’s journey was slightly different from that of her namesake, as she avoided conflicts in the Middle East, monsoon season in India, and locations where she couldn’t land as an American citizen. But in the end, ten stops overlapped between the two flight plans.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson spoke to Amelia Rose Earhart in June, before she took off, and checked back in with her today about the successful completion of her longtime dream.

See more photos from Amelia Rose Earhart's trip:

Interview Highlights

On following the path of the original Amelia Earhart

“I was filled with adrenaline when we flew over [Howland Island] — it was definitely an emotional moment because it was the closest that I had come to my namesake at that point in time. I was scrambling with cameras and trying to take in the moment. I finally just set everything down and I stared at that space because that’s what Amelia wanted to see with every part of her. She wanted to land safely on that island, but she was never able to do that. At that point in the flight, it became our mission to complete the flight for her and carry her legacy safely back to Oakland.”

“I gained so much more respect for her upon completion. Especially after passing over Howland Island because of seeing how tiny that island was in such a vast ocean. She was really much more brave than I ever knew. I’ve always had so much respect for her and known that she was an incredible woman, but what she was doing with the lack of technology back in the 1930s…”

On the ethos of the journey

“Not everywhere we stayed was very nice. We stayed in some pretty broken-down spots — concrete floors, very limited bathroom facilities, and a lot of bugs, a lot of insects, a lot of cracks in the walls. But that’s what it was about! It was about having an adventure. It wasn’t about staying in a cush hotel all the way around the world. It was taking that airplane to some pretty exotic places and experiencing things that I for one never had.”

On what’s coming up next

“It wonderful that I had already started the Fly With Amelia Foundation, because that’s where my heart is at and that’s what the true passion and excitement around Amelia’s life was. She said back in the 1930s that the reason she was flying was to create opportunities for the women who would fly tomorrow’s planes. And that’s exactly who I am.”

“Now I can grow the foundation and give other women the opportunity to fly. We awarded 10 flight scholarships flying over Howland Island. As we made our way through, we announced them on Twitter. So we’ve got high school aged girls getting out to the airport and experiencing what I feel when I get into the plane and what Amelia felt when she climbed into her Lockheed Electra. What’s next? Another strong woman with a great experience under her belt who can now go out and lead by example and hopefully influence a lot of young girls.”


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  • Dennis Cinquegrani

    I listen daily while at work. Today’s interview was great. Those sand dunes in eastern Brazil are fantastic. Been going there for the past 25 years as my wife was born there. Riding in the dunes is protected and only specially licensed drivers w/ specially equiped “Buggies” are allowed. Dennis C.

  • Nancy Doyle

    I found it ironic that you aired a story about Amelia Earhart both present day and the historical role model today and neither your guest or you mentioned that today is the original pathfinder’s birthday! I know because she has been a super role model for me especially since I was born on this day also!

    • Dave

      “Amelia Earhart was born 117 years ago today. She disappeared in July 1937 over the South Pacific, attempting to fly solo around the globe.”

      Reading is often an art form.

  • sonita

    As your guest pointed out, radical changes in the possibilities for aviation today created the very admirable achievement. Congratulations to the guest! However, the changes in technologies today also make it possible to become more culturally literate. The technical planning for the flight may have taken up the whole time for the pilot but learning about the histories/cultures would be wonderful.

    The kinds of ‘contact’ moments in Sao Tome for example demonstrates (and repeats) old colonial moments of the ‘self’ meeting the ‘other’ without a clue about how to engage. Pilots on these kinds of flights are ‘ambassadors’ and today can be equipped with more than a parachute. Sao Tome, by the way, is a historic site at the crossroads of the slave trade from the African Continent to North and South America, as well as Europe, and produced one of the unforgettable singers of our times, Cesaria Evora,(from Cabo Verde, in the vicinity) who sings about Sao Tome.

    Again, kudos to the pilot for her technical achievements and I encourage her and her crew for their future cultural achievements.

  • Keifus

    You go girl, looking good too

  • Someone

    Oh, the pursuits of the privileged. Is this really an achievement? How many of us wouldn’t love to do this but can’t because we don’t have the money? Many, I’m sure.

  • Unther1222

    What a joke!

  • Rushe Limbaugh

    This is liberal crap and propaganda ! This is the kind of crap we all had to endure in the 1970′s when woman’s lib and the lesbian agenda was shoved down our throats. Articles like this fuel wars in the middle east !

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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