On This Day Amelia Earhart begins first non-stop solo flight across Atlantic

Julian Gavaghan
On This Day Amelia Earhart begins first non-stop solo flight across Atlantic

May 20, 1932: Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across Atlantic on this day in 1932 – five years before she mysteriously disappeared.

The American celebrity adventurer took off from Newfoundland, in eastern Canada, and spent 14 hours and 56 minutes in the air before landing in Northern Ireland.

Earhart, 34, – nicknamed Lady Lindy due to her likeness to the first transatlantic aviator Charles Linbergh – was filmed by British Pathé being cheered by villagers.

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She is also seen grinning as she shook hands with farm labourer Dan McCallion, who first asked in his identifying Irish brogue: “Have you flown far?”

She 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.

The footage also shows her in London, which was described by the plummy-voiced Pathé reporter as “pelting with rain, thunder and lightning, good old English weather”.

The newsreel also included a clip of her landing in Wales four years earlier when she became the first woman to fly over the Atlantic as part of a crew.

Her 1928 endeavour – made while she was still social worker with a flying hobby – propelled her to fame.

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 last year suggests she may have plunged into the ocean near Nikumaroro island.

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