The Story Of Amelia Earhart's Flight And Legacy



A Flight & A Legacy: Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

A Place To Experience The Story Of The First Female Pilot's Childhood And Journey At Her Home In Atchison, Kansas

Amelia Earhart [Courtesy/SDASM Archives]

Amelia Earhart. It's a name everyone recognizes... The first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. But her legacy is more important than her accomplishments. Her story is one of hope, inspiration, determination... And there's no better place to experience Amelia Earhart's story than the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, her original childhood home in Atchison, Kansas.

“I didn't know much about her when I first started working here, but I feel I've learned so much about her just by being here,” said Museum Manager Katie Evans. “It's amazing to know I'm in the same space as someone as influential as Amelia. Sitting in her bedroom and looking out the window, the same view she saw as a little kid... You can imagine her just picturing flying, the freedom that might have brought.”

The two-floor building looks a bit small from the outside, noted Evans, but there are a ton of rooms and twelve-foot ceilings. There's a formal dining room, a study, a large bedrooms, Amelia's room... It seems like it never ends, said Evans.

And each room is full of furniture and décor designed to look how the house would have appeared back when Amelia lived there, in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The original flooring, windows and fireplace are still there. The large house also homes many of Amelia's things, like her bathing suits and shoes, along with photographs and exhibits.

While Amelia Earhart is best known for her accomplishments, the museum acts as a reminder of Amelia's spirit, her dreams... It brings people back in time and allows them to imagine Amelia as a child, to understand who she truly was and how she became the most famous pilot in history.

Amelia Earhart Home In Kansas [Courtesy/Kansas Tourism]
Amelia Painting At The Museum [Courtesy/Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum]
Amelia Poses On Top Of Airplane Along With Her Girlfriends [Courtesy/SDASM Archives]

“Even as a kid, she was definitely someone who liked to push boundaries,” said Evans, who noted that Amelia lived in the house from age three to 12. “She and the neighborhood kids would collect shells in town. Amelia - because she always wanted to do something new, something exciting - she had the idea to burn them and dance around them, doing chants.”

Amelia and her friends would go on adventures in a carriage they had, imaging taking trips to Africa and other exotic lands. Her cousin drew maps of the lands they'd pretended to travel to. She wasn't a trouble maker, but she definitely didn't want to be held back.

“She used to hop that fence all the time,” said Evans. “One time her grandma caught her and Amelia was very upset because her grandmother said it's not how little girls behaved. From a young age, she didn't want to be told she couldn't do things because she was a woman.”

Luckily, her parents were encouraged her to be herself, to be adventurous. They purchased her “boy's toys” at a time when many families may have stifled their daughters' creativity or sense of adventure. So when she first rode on a plane at the Iowa State Fair she didn't feel it was impossible to become a pilot herself at a time when women were not flying. She knew she could achieve her dream. She knew she had to fly.

Amelia Earhart became the first woman to ride passenger across the Atlantic Ocean. But she wasn't the pilot and “that really bothered her,” said Evans. “So she did a solo flight across the Atlantic herself.”

It was that simple.

Amelia & Blanche Noya [Courtesy/SDASM Archives]
Planning A Trip Around The World [Courtesy/SDASM Archives]
Amelia Goes Missing [Courtesy/SDASM Archives]

On October 22, 1922 she broke the women's altitude record when she rose to 14,000 feet. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, an almost 21 hour journey. Feeling unstoppable, she set out to fly around the world.

She disappeared in 1937 on the last leg of the flight.

There are many theories as to what happened to her. Some people believe she may have ran out of fuel and landed in the ocean. Others believe she crash landed on the wrong island and was picked up as a POW. But no matter what happened, Amelia Earhart didn't truly disappear.

Her memory lives on. And she left behind a legacy that inspired generations of women to achieve their dreams, to not let anyone hold them back.

“She is somebody who believed that women should be able to do things as well. She said women should do anything men can do and failing was motivating for other women to succeed,” said Evans. “There was an airplane race she put on and it was all female pilots. She came in third. Somebody asked her how she felt about not winning and she said, 'Any women winning a race is a win for women everywhere.' She encouraged people to beat her records.”

In 2015, it was recorded that there were 4,000 female commercial pilots. And there are even more flying for fun, racing and in the army. There are also women working behind the scenes, in NASA, as engineers and as flight attendants. While flying is still a male-dominated field, there's no question in anyone's mind that women can fly and that if it's their dream they can achieve it. And there's no better place to feel that sense of wonder than in Amelia Earhart's room, looking out her window, imaging her taking off across the Atlantic, into the sunset.

Olivia Richman

A graduate of East Connecticut State University in Journalism, Olivia has written for Stonebridge Press & Antiques Marketplace among others. She enjoys writing, running and video games.

Kansas City West/Lawrence KOA

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Kansas City West/Lawrence KOA, with easy in and easy out spaces, plenty of pull thru full hook up site with cable, lodging options, and tent sites. Close to Kansas City Legends shopping outlet, Schlitterbahn water park, and the Kansas Speedway.

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