News World On This Day: American pilot Amelia Earhart sets new flying record
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On This Day: American pilot Amelia Earhart sets new flying record

One of the world's most famous aviators, Amelia Earhart. Photo: Getty
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Amelia Earhart was on a roll.

At 31 years old, the American aviation pioneer shot to fame by becoming the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by plane.

Then, four years later, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress and a medal from US President Herbert Hoover.

Earhart was unstoppable – and she wasn’t finished yet.

Amelia Earhart at the controls of an aircraft in France.
Amelia Earhart at the controls of an aircraft in France. Photo: Getty

On this day in 1935, the courageous pilot set yet another record by becoming the first aviator to fly solo from Hawaii to the US mainland.

She departed the state’s capital Honolulu and landed in Oakland, California.

At the time, the transoceanic flight had been attempted by many others, including three unlucky competitors in the deadly Dole Air Race in 1927.

But Earhart made it look easy.

Her trailblazing flight went smoothly, with no mechanical breakdowns.

In her final hours, she was so relaxed that she listened to the broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from New York.

Crowds welcomed Amelia Earhart after the first Hawaii-to-California flight in 1935. Photo: Getty

Between 1930 and 1935, Earhart had set seven women’s speed and distance aviation records in a variety of aircraft, including the Kinner Airster, Lockheed Vega and Pitcairn Autogyro.

She also wrote several best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in forming The Ninety-Nines, an organisation for female pilots.

Tragically, Earhart’s incredible life was cut short in mysterious circumstances.

On July 2, 1937, during an attempt to become the first female aviator to complete a circumnavigational flight of the globe, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared.

amelia earhart and fred noonan
Earhart and Noonan before their crossing of the Pacific in 1937. Photo: Getty

The pair disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

Nearly one year and six months after the disappearance, Earhart was officially declared dead.

To this day, more than 80 years later, investigations continue and the mystery remains of significant public interest.

Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight. Graph: The NYT
Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight. Graph: The NYT

Wild theories abound.

Some people believe Earhart was an American spy captured by the Japanese, while others say she lived out her days under a false identity as a New Jersey housewife.

amelia-earhart-irene-bolam
Some people assert Earhart (left) and Irene Bolam were the same person but Ms Bolam always denied this claim. Photo: ABC, Wikimedia Commons

In 2019, a group of explorers announced they would renew a search for Earhart’s plane in response to new evidence. 

Perhaps this year, the mystery will finally be solved.