On This Day: Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to be flown across Atlantic

Julian Gavaghan

JUNE 18, 1932: Missing aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart became the first woman to be flown across the Atlantic on this day in 1928 – nine years before she mysteriously disappeared.

The 30-year-old American, who would go on to become the first female pilot to fly solo across the ocean, was just a passenger on this occasion.

But in 1928, at the dawn of the aviation era when women were rarely adventurers, her crossing from Newfoundland, Canada to Wales was viewed as utterly incredible.

Earhart, pilot Wilmer Stultz and mechanic Louis Gordon received a stirring welcome when they landed at Burry Port near Llanelli after a flight of 20 hours and 40 minutes.

A British Pathé newsreel showed huge crowds running along the beach to catch a glimpse of the crew and their Fokker Trimotor seaplane.

The arrival of Earhart, who was then just a social worker with an unusual hobby, had been unexpected as they were due to land at Southampton but had engine trouble.

Despite acknowledging that ‘Stultz did all the flying—had to – I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes,’ she was undoubtedly the star of the show.


The newsreel, which dubbed her ‘Girl Lindy’ after the first transatlantic solo pilot Charles Lindbergh, filmed her flying alone to Southampton.

She was shown waving to crowds in Southampton from atop the Avro Avian that Mary, Lady Heath had leant her and which Earhart later bought.















Earhart was given a hero’s welcome when she returned to the U.S (Getty)

 

[On This Day: Amelia Earhart begins first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic]

 

Earhart, who was only chosen to fly after the initial female candidate decided the trip was too dangerous, was given a hero’s welcome when she returned to the U.S.

She and the crew returned to the U.S., they were given a ticker-tape parade in New York followed by a reception with President Calvin Coolidge.

The following year she married wealthy publisher and explorer George Putnam after his sixth proposal – but she insisted on keeping her surname and being equal partners.



 

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She earned a fortune herself by promoting aviation for the new airline industry and taking part in competitive flying contests.

She also became close friends with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who shared her interest for women’s causes.


In 1934, Earhart, who by this time had become one of America’s biggest celebrities, made history again by becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

She took off again from Newfoundland and spent 14 hours and 56 minutes in the air before landing in Northern Ireland.





Amelia was one of the biggest celebrities after becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (Getty)

 

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Earhart had hoped to emulate Lindbergh’s feat and land near Paris – but was forced to come down near Londonderry after her Lockheed Vega plane began leaking fuel.

It nevertheless sparked a global sensation and she received the Legion d’Honneur medal from France and the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress.

But the former Crayola heiress, whose family blew the fortune before she could inherit anything, is probably best known today for her disappearance.



 

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She vanished on July 2, 1937, while flying over the Pacific during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Neither her body nor her plane has ever been discovered, although debris found in 2012 suggests she may have plunged into the ocean near Nikumaroro Island.