75 years ago today, Amelia Earhart embarked upon her final flight… a flight that would go down in the world’s history as one of the most calculated risks, most beautiful adventures and most confounding mysteries. She blew the mind’s of her critics, she dared to dream in a way that provoked others to stare, wide eyed and excited. Amelia made others question their daily lives, asking themselves the burning question of what they could do to feel that alive! Her graceful demeanor, quiet confidence and sheer focus is what allowed her to leave her mark. This is why, 75 years later, we search for her. We search for her wreckage in hopes of putting to rest the life of a woman who knew how to go for it… big time.
There are many times that I have felt that Amelia was in the cockpit with me. No, I am not having crazy delusions of a phantom co-pilot… But it is her vivacity that encourages me to keep learning, keep fueling my desires and the plane, and to keep pushing forward on this beautiful journey, even when the critics step in and try their best to get in my head. When Amelia is in the plane with me, I grease my landings, I pass my check ride, and I fly with ease and grace. If I could write her a letter, this is what it would say…
You are about to change the course of history. You are about to go where no woman has gone before. You are about to inspire countless men and women to question what they are capable of accomplishing. Did you have any idea that 75 years later your name would still come up in daily conversation and be taught in schools to throngs of kids who just want to grow up to do great things? Did you know your name would stand for gusto and passion and adventure?
I can only imagine what it is like to take off in that beautiful Lockheed Electra, loud and solid, heavy and reconfigured for your epic flight. We have all read the accounts of your final words, your preparation for the journey, but I want to know what went through your mind the first time you could only see the ocean below you… no land in sight, just ocean and sky, an adventure unfolding in your hands. Did you feel like you were where you were supposed to be?
Was it hard to deal with people who said you wouldn’t accomplish your goal? Did their words ever bring you to tears? Did you ever question if they were right and that you were not tough enough to leave the ground? So many years later, there are still people out there who think it is odd to see a woman flying a plane. Crazy, right?
So many questions, I know. That’s what happens when a great person does not return. We never got to ask you what the world looked like from that plane, what it felt like to be truly in control of your own existence, in the most literal sense…
When I fly, you are in the plane with me. You are reminding me to scan and double check and communicate clearly. You are there with me when a little girl asks me what it is like to fly an airplane, “all by myself”. You are there when any woman takes off into the big blue sky.
What a gift is has been, being named after you. I consider our name to be the greatest gift my parents could have ever given me. Every day I get to tell the story of how you inspired me to long for more than an ordinary existence. It is working! Someday I will complete your round the world flight for you… you will be there in the airplane with me, guiding me home to a safe landing.
Flying is hard work. We know that because so few take on the responsibility. Were there ever days that you wanted to quit and lead a “normal” life? Were there days when negative people made you want to play small and stop flying? I have days like that too, but it is your tenacity that has made me get up day after day and try something new. It has also made me want to encourage others, those who feel lost and confused about if they are strong enough to do something great… they are the ones that need it most. You still inspire them, even after being gone for so many years.
Blue skies and tailwinds, Amelia… you actually changed the world. Someday soon, we will find your plane, we will solve the mystery, and we will honor you for your bold and daring feat of courage.