Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ava. Ava Wonders, “Who was Amelia Earhart” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ava!

Have you ever flown in an airplane? If so, you know just how thrilling flight can be. Maybe you’ve even dreamed of piloting a plane yourself one day. If that sounds like you, then you might already recognize the name at the center of today’s Wonder of the Day—Amelia Earhart!

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897. As a kid, she excelled in science classes and sports. After high school, she entered college but soon left to serve as a nurse in Canada during World War I. There, she gave medical care to many pilots and got to know them. That’s when Earhart developed a strong interest in flying.

In 1920, Earhart rode in an airplane for the first time. She was only in the air for 10 minutes, but that was all it took. She knew she wanted to be a pilot. Earhart started taking flying lessons from a pilot named Anita “Neta” Snook and bought her first plane, “The Canary,” in 1921. By 1922, she was already setting records. Earhart became the first woman to fly at 14,000 feet that year.

In 1928, Earhart received a call from Captain Hilton H. Railey, who asked her if she wanted to join two pilots on a flight from the United States to Europe. On June 17, 1928, in an airplane named “The Friendship,” Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. She didn’t pilot the plane, but this was still a big step in the progress of women in aviation.

Earhart also wanted to make sure other women had the same opportunities to fly. She cared deeply about the future of women in flight. In 1929, she founded the Ninety-Nines, a group that still supports women in aviation today. Earhart served as the group’s first president.

In May 1932, Earhart made another journey across the Atlantic, but this time she flew the airplane—alone. She also set a new time record for the route. President Herbert Hoover awarded Earhart with a medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, for her accomplishment. She was the first woman ever to receive this honor.

In June 1937, Earhart made her most ambitious—and final—flight. Along with navigator Fred Noonan, she planned to fly around the world.

Their journey started successfully, with flights from Miami to South America, then Africa, Thailand, and Australia. Problems arose however, when they left New Guinea. They were headed for Howland Island. During this leg of the trip, the U.S. Coast Guard lost contact with the plane. The last communication with Earhart was received at 8:45 A.M. on July 2, 1937. The plane was low on fuel, and Earhart and Noonan couldn’t find their destination.

Early investigators believed that Earhart’s plane went down 35 to 100 miles off the coast of Howland Island. The U.S. Navy searched for weeks. However, they never found a trace of the airplane or its aviators.

What happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan? Today, many people believe they likely died when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. Others, including The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), think the two could have survived for some time on Nikumaroro, also called Gardner Island. Searches have found some evidence to support this, such as a 1930s-style shoe and compact. Still, there’s no certainty that these belonged to Earhart.

The disappearance remains a mystery today. What we do know is that Amelia Earhart broke records, advanced aviation, and continues to be one of the most celebrated aviators in history.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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