Amelia Mary Earhart.
A name many of you have probably heard before, especially if you are as passionate about aviation as I am.
Amelia was a female pioneer in aviation and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. After setting many other records, she ultimately set off to circumnavigate the globe in a dual engine aircraft in 1937 – an adventure that ended in catastrophe when Amelia disappeared over the south Pacific Ocean with her co-pilot and was never to be found.
So how did I get to interview Amelia Earhart even though she has now been dead for almost a century?
Glad you asked, because it is a great story.
One name, two centuries, and a passion to soar
One day, while browsing the web for interesting articles about aviation, I stumbled upon another Amelia Earhart. A women in Colorado with the very same name, the same passion for aviation and a unique mission: to recreate and symbolically complete Amelia’s flight around the world.
I was fascinated. I was inspired. And I knew that I wanted to learn more about this woman and her story. So I got in contact with Amelia and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview her.
17 stops, 14 countries, 24,301 nautical miles
Recreating Amelia’s flight in a 17 day journey while covering almost 25,000 nautical miles is what Amelia Rose Earhart, a thirty one-year old Colorado-based pilot, philanthropist and former traffic and weather news anchor, is about to do.
It is the adventure of a lifetime.
And as you already know, I love adventures and I also love to learn about people undertaking such endeavours. So today, we will dive into the life of Amelia Rose Earhart, into how it all started and into the captivating world of aviation.
- Flight: 17 days, 17 stops, 14 countries and 24,301 nautical miles – you can check out the whole flight itinerary here: Amelia project
- Aircraft: Pilatus PC-12 NG, equipped with state-of-the-art Honeywell Primus Apex avionics
- Team: Aviatrix Amelia Rose Earhart and co-pilot Shane Jordan
Click on the links and check out her website to learn more about the flight plan, aircraft and technical details.
For now, I will take you on a more emotional journey.
During our interview, I asked Amelia not only about the flight itself but also about her feelings, excitement and fears.
“The flight starts the moment you decide where you want to go”
Something inside of me starts to ring when I hear Amelia say this. Because it is so true.
For her, the flight started when she realized that the biggest thing she could do with that prestigious name of hers was to symbolically recreate the flight Amelia Mary Earhart never got to finish in 1937. “That is where the idea came from and I decided that I wanted to close Amelia’s flight plan for her. Because Amelia never got the chance to do that”, Amelia tells me at the beginning of our interview.
“It actually took me a while to grow into having the confidence to think that I could pull it off. So, when I set my mind to it, I laid out a big piece of paper across the kitchen table and wrote down every difficulty, every roadblock and all the hurdles I would have to get through in order to make this flight happen. And over the last year and a half I’ve just been checking them off”.
She also shares, with an infectious enthusiasm, that she didn’t know a thing about planning a flight around the world before she started out: “I have met pilots from around the world who offered me their help and expertise, and I have a great team. What’s fun is that now I feel like I could even assist somebody else in doing it in the future. Because the answers are out there. I actually feel like I can tackle anything after that flight just because of all the details.”
I immediately realize that being optimistic is key for such a project (and pretty much anything in life), and I am stunned by how much optimism Amelia is spreading.
“I still believe that I can do anything, and a lot of people my age have lost that. And it is sad to see that go away in people”, she says.
“What I try to show with this project is that anything can be viewed as an adventure. I like to say that flying around the world is really just about taking that very first step – and it may be 28,000 miles across the globe – but if you don’t take this first step, and then the next day the second, you’ll never get there. Towards the beginning it feels like step by step but now I feel like I’m taking leaps and bounds and in the last 30 days everything is just flying towards me so quickly!”
Life evolves in unexpected ways, and flying across the world in 17 days is surely something Amelia couldn’t have imagined doing just a couple of years ago. But that is the beauty of pursuing your boldest dreams: It makes anything possible. And it brings out all the fears and excitement that life can hold.
“I was working in television for the first eight years of my career and I left a very well-paying, prestigious job at the TV station in order to pursue this. I knew deep down that I had to do it. Being named Amelia Earhart was a gift my parents gave me. I feel like if I didn’t pull off the flight I wouldn’t be doing the name justice and I wouldn’t be living out my full passion. You can’t really fake a passion for flight – you either love it or you don’t, there is not many people in between. My whole heart is going into this project”, Amelia confesses.
I can feel how honest this answer is, and want to know more about how she feels right now and what she is looking forward to the most.
Amelia and her co-pilot Shane Jordan are taking off at sunrise out of every single departure point. Which means that as they fly eastbound, they will be flying into the sunrise.
“That’s sort of symbolic for me: chasing horizons and seeing the sun rise around the entire world. I planned that intentionally”, Amelia says with a laugh.
“But the real, and most important part of this flight for me is the scholarships that we are giving away during the flight. Because we are live-streaming, we are able to send out the names of the students that won the scholarships on the live-stream as well. It is such a great opportunity to tie together aviation’s past and aviation’s future”.
The Fly With Amelia Foundation
Scholarships? Yes, that’s right. Amelia Rose Earhart is not only a former television reporter, a talented pilot and modern-day adventurer, she also founded a Colorado-based 501c3 non-profit organisation that allows young women to go to flight school.
“When I started flight training in college, I found that it was so incredibly expensive. Through all these years I would preach about how girls should become involved in aviation, and then the girls would tell me that they were having a lot of trouble paying for flight school. So I started raising money for the Fly With Amelia Foundation.”
I immediately understand how much she loves to see women in aerospace and aviation, and her projects certainly reflect this mission.
“I think people really do have an interest in women in aviation because women have such a finesse in the cockpit and they operate things just slightly differently than men do. Not better but different.”
And what about her fears?
Everyone fears certain things in life, no matter how brave we may seem or how heroic our endeavours appear.
You, me, Amelia.
We all have our own fears, resistances and struggles. So what are Amelia’s fears?
“I’m afraid it will go by too quickly!” Well, that’s a fear folks! I love it!
She tells me about her very safe plane, and that she flies with an extremely safe engine and a great co-pilot, Shane Jordan, who knows the aircraft inside out.
“I know we will return safely. My fears really are that it’s coming to an end. And the adventure is not just these 17 days: it actually started one and a half years ago when I told myself that I had the creativity and enough passion to pull it off”, Amelia reveals.
“I am very happy right now, a nervous happy. It is very exciting and very fulfilling, but at this point I can’t wait to just open the door of the airplane, depart from Oakland, start flying eastbound, knowing that there will be difficulties along the way. There will always be people naysaying the project, but I know that I’m telling my story and doing it in the most fulfilled way possible. It is a true adventure!”
The magic of flying
Of course I want to know what Amelia feels when she is up in the air: “Flying for me is the only time in my life when 100% laser-focus is required. We always have a million thoughts racing through our brains, but when I fly an airplane that is the only thing I am doing. It is a beautiful moment to have complete clarity around a task and it really does require my full attention because flying is very difficult. It’s fun to be totally tuned into something, to give it your whole heart and your whole mind. So for me, that’s what it is: It’s full, effortless attention.”
A final word
Having the opportunity to interview Amelia not only excited but also deeply inspired me. I love aviation. I get goose bumps every time I see an airplane and once you experience the wonder of flight, it is impossible to forget. And thus, one of my favourite quotes in life is this:
For once you have tasted flight, you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards. For there you have been and there you’ll always long to return.
However, Amelia’s mission is not only about flying – it is about the fact that anything in life can be an adventure.
It is about pursuing our own dreams, desires and destinies.
Push your limits.
Leave your comfort zone to seek the unknown.
Fly outside the lines.
And be prepared to find your true self.
I want to thank Amelia Rose Earhart for this amazing and very inspirational interview. It’s been a pleasure to learn more about her mission, passion and views on life. All the best for your flight and the future, Amelia!
You can follow Amelia’s journey on her website (there will be a live-stream!) and on social media via Amelia’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #FlyWithAmelia. The departure is set for June 26th 2014!