Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things. Knows not the vivid loneliness of fear nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings. How can life grant us boon of living, compensate for dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate, unless we dare the souls dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay with courage to behold the restless day and count it fair.” Those were the words of Amelia Earhart in a poem she wrote, entitled “Courage.
” Amelia Earhart knew a lot about courage. Even when faced with impossible odds, she always had the courage to try and overcome them. She had a never give up attitude that made her so attractive to the public and took the science community by surprise. Without that attitude, she would never have been invited to make her first flight across the Atlantic ocean on June 3rd 1928. Because she had the courage to be one of the only women pilots at the time, she was invited by her future husband, George Putnam, to make the 20 hour 14 minute journey across the Atlantic.
Although she was just a passenger on the flight, she was still promoted to celebrity status for being the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane. Although her fame was set with her first flight, she wanted to promote aviation in women. In 1929, she organized a cross-country air race for women pilots named “the Power Puff Derby.” She also formed “the Ninety Nines” a now famous women pilots organization.
In addition to forming organizations for women pilots, she occupied her four year break from flying with writing her first book, “20 hours, 40 minutes” on her first flight, became assistant to the general traffic manager of TWA and served as vice president for public relations of the New York, Washington, and Philadelphia Airways. Amelia enjoyed public relations, but missed flying greatly during her four year sabatical. In 1932, no one else had ever flown solo over the Atlantic since Charles Lindberg, and Amelia set out to change that. On May 20th, 1932, exactly five years after Lindbergs flight, she set off for her 2nd journey across the Atlantic.
She sucessfully completed her flight, breaking several records. She was the first woman to fly the Atlantic and the only person to fly it twice. She flew the longest nonstop distance by a woman, and set a record for crossing in the shortest time. After this amazing record setting flight, her name became known in every household across the country as she won the Outstand Woman of the Year award. She accepted the award on behalf of all women, demonstrating to the world that women can accomplish almost anything. For the next two years, she toured Europe and America giving speeches to various groups and promoting aviation. In autumn of 1934, her ambitious nature and love for flying caught up with her again, and she announced to her husband, George Putnam that her next venture would be a trans-Pacific flight flight from Hawaii to California. This was her most courageous flight yet, as ten pilots had already lost their lives trying to fly the same course she was about to set forth upon.
On January 4th, 1935, Amelia took off from Hawaii and later that day landed in Oakland California to a cheering crowd of thousands. For the next few months, she went back to promoting aviation through lecture tours almost nonstop. In later 1935, Amelia began to make plans for what was to be her longest flight yet: around the world. On March 17th of the same year, she took off from Oakland to Hawaii. After resting in Hawaii, she set off from Luke Field near Pearl Harbor, but lost control of her plane at takeoff. Although Amelia wasn’t injured, there was massive damage done to her plane.
She had to send it back to California for extensive repairs. After such a major setback, she didn’t give up, but rather waited almost two years before embarking on her journey for the second time. On June 1st, 1937, she departed this time from Miami Florida on a different route around the world.
Amelia made it all the way to Singapore this time before problems arose. On June 17th, she fell ill with dysentery that lasted for many days. Although weakened and exhausted from her illness, she had the courage and perserverance to continue with the flight. At exactly midnight, she took off for the last leg of her journey. Twenty hours she made her last radio contact, saying “KHAQQ calling Itasca, we must be on you, but cannot see you. Gas is running low.” After several failed transmissions to Amelia, the coast guard determined that she must have landed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and began rescue search procedures. Although neither Amelia or her plane were ever recovered, she did not die in vain.
She left behind a legacy to all aspiring women, pilots or otherwise. It was a legacy with the message of hope and determination to follow dreams and success will follow. But most of all, her legacy was of courage. A courage that changes a person’s life, as it did Amelias.
And as she so truly stated in her poem, each time we make a choice, we pay with courage.