From WTOP.com: Amelia Earhart exhibit honors history, legacy
WASHINGTON - Amelia Earhart may not have been the first female pilot, or even the
best, but her mysterious disappearance over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 affirmed her
status as the most iconic figure in American aviation.
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of her vanishing -- during her attempt
to fly around the world -- the National Portrait Gallery is opening an exhibit
dedicated to the woman they dubbed "Lady Lindy."
"One Life: Amelia Earhart"
opens June 29 and runs through May 27, 2013. The one-room exhibit features
photographs, paintings and drawings on loan to the gallery from the Smithsonian
and Purdue University Library. The exhibit also includes object such as her
leather flying helmet, pilot's license and smelling salts.
Visitors can also watch rare video footage and audio excerpts featuring Earhart at
a special kiosk.
"The exhibit explores the life and remarkable aviation career of Amelia Earhart,"
says Frank Goodyear, associate curator of photographs at the National Portrait
While Earhart is one of the most well-known female aviators in American history,
the exhibit also shares the story of Earhart as a strong, independent women who
fought for women's rights at a time when women typically did not venture out of
the home, let alone into a pilot's seat.
After becoming the first women to cross the Atlantic in 1928, Earhart became an
"She understood that this represented an opportunity to promote women in aviation
and also women to lead independent lives, professional lives outside the home,"
In November 1929, Earhart helped to organize The Ninety Nines, a group of 117 American female pilots. She was
elected the organization's first president. The group was named for the 99 charter
Today, the Ninety Nines are an international organization of licensed women pilots
from 35 countries. It has grown to thousands of members.
Earhart was born in 1897 Atchison, Kan. A year after she graduated from Hyde
Park High School in Chicago, Ill. she went to Toronto, Canada to volunteer as a
nurse at Spadina Military Convalescent Hospital for the "walking wounded" of WWI.
That experience led her to enroll in the pre-med program of Columbia University.
She left after one semester.
Earhart discovered her love of aviation after taking her first flight with pilot
Frank Hawks in Los Angeles in 1920.
She would go on to set an altitude record in 1929, after she reached 18,415 feet.
As she was becoming America's aviation sweetheart, Earhart was ambivalent of her
newfound celebrity, but she used it to further her love of flying and her role as
a standard-bearer for women in aviation.
"Amelia Earhart's impact on American culture expands beyond her record-setting
aviation feats," says Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery.
"She was also an advocate for aviation and women and championed the first
commercial airlines. Now we take for granted the convenience of air travel and
equal rights for all, but in the 1920s and '30s these positions reflected the
ideals of a bold visionary."
The fascination with Earhart continues to this day, 75 years after her attempt to
make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937. She and her co-pilot
disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.
In March, an enhanced analysis of a photograph taken months after her
plan vanished shows what experts think may be the landing gear of the aircraft
protruding from the waters off the remote island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the
Pacific nation of Kiribati