Friday, July 24, 2009

Amelia Earhart... October 2009

The movie based on the life of Amelia Earhart, called Amelia and starrng Hilary Swank and Ewen McGregor, is scheduled to be released in October, 2008.

I'm not actually sure who took the photo that I use to illustrate this particular entry, but I'm guessing, because of the stark contrast between black and white, that it was a famous celebrity photographer of the time, George Hurrell.

Amelia Earhart was born in 1897, to the daughter of a wealthy family. Unfortunately, things being what they are, not all wealthy people stay wealthy, and Amelia actually grew up in more of a lower-middle-class income stream, because her father had a drinking problem and couldn't keep a job.

She didn't have her first flying lesson until 1921, when she was 24 years old. Prior to that time she'd been a nurse.

Because of the fame of Amelia Earhart, many people think that she was *the* pioneering woman pilot. But while she certainly did a lot to advance the cause of women's aviation, she was by no means the first women pilot.

Within a few years after the invention of the first practical airplane by the Wright Brothers (which took place long after that 1903 Kitty Hawk flight) women around the world were flying in planes, and like their male counterparts, some lost their lives. In those early days there was no cockpit. The pilot sat on top of the bottom wing, and had a couple of levers to pull to go up or down. (Although some models did have steering wheels, as you see in the photo of Raymonde Laroche, 22 August 1886 - 18 July 1919),a French woman who was the first woman anywhere to earn a pilot's license, in 1909.)

Unlike guys, who got to wear sensible trousers, women who flew in the early 1900s typically wore long dresses that covered their ankles (God forbid an inch of skin should show). Harriet Quimby (May 11, 1875 – July 1, 1912) was an exception, with her custom-made purple flying suit with trousers that showed off her "lower limbs".

Check out this site: Air Pioneers

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