Amelia Rose Earhart, the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft, speaks at a Meet the Aviator reception at the Denver Place July 23. Photo by Cos Lindstrom • firstname.lastname@example.org
By Angelita Foster
Amelia Rose Earhart completed a historic around-the-world flight July 11, recreating the flight that took her namesake’s life more than 70 years ago.
The former 9News air traffic and weather reporter — no relation to her famous namesake — became the youngest woman, at 31, to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft. The modern Earhart flew her Pilatus PC-12 NG more than 24,000 nautical miles, making 17 stops in 14 countries, accompanied by co-pilot Shane Jordan.
With 1,400 paper airplanes floating above her head, Earhart talked about what her accomplishment meant to her, to Colorado and to girls and women who dream of taking flight, during a Meet the Aviator reception at the Denver Place July 23.
“Flying around the world was something that I had always dreamed of, and of course, having the name Amelia Earhart steered me that way,” she said. “And I did it.”
Earhart said she had an amazing realization while flying around Howland Island, the area in the South Pacific where her namesake is believed to have crashed.
“I realized what the whole point of the trip was: We had aviation’s past honoring Amelia’s flight, recreating and symbolically completing her flight. We had aviation’s present flying a Pilatus PC-12 with no swaps the entire flight and a completely safe mission,” Earhart said. “Then we had the future of aviation on their smart phones, and on their iPads, learning via Twitter that they get to learn to fly, and that was very special.”
Earhart established the Fly With Amelia Foundation that provides flight-training grants to help girls ages 16 to 18 learn how to fly. As she was fulfilling her dream, Earhart was giving other girls the possibility of reaching their own.
“Putting girls through flight school and giving them that inspirational start at a young age is my purpose,” Earhart said.
Denver first lady Mary Louise Lee presented Earhart with a Mayor’s Proclamation, naming July 23, 2014, Amelia Rose Earhart Day.
“What you’ve done is put Colorado on the map, and we really and truly appreciate it,” Lee said. “Like her namesake, (Earhart) inspired herself and others to explore, push boundaries, question the status quo, and said that adventure is worthwhile in itself, and women should be able to do whatever they want to do.”
Earhart accepted the proclamation, but asked the audience to take a moment to recognize the lives of Babar Suleman and his teenage son Haris, whose around-the-world attempt had ended in tragedy earlier that day.
“When I heard that news today, it was hard knowing that I had this celebration planned this evening. I thought ‘how selfish of me’ that I am attending a party, when two other people who set out to do the same thing, died in their attempt to follow their adventure and lifetime goal,” Earhart said, fighting back tears. “We take off on adventures and do the things we love knowing that it could come to an end at any moment, and that’s where the joy comes from.”