This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.
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Amelia Earhart is probably the most famous female aviator in history. Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897. She had her first airplane flight in California in 1920, with the veteran flier Frank Hawkes, and knew immediately that she wanted to become a pilot. Her first instructor was Anita "Neta" Snook who gave her flying lessons in a Curtiss Jenny. Earhart received her pilot's license in 1921 and bought a Kinner Airster. While working at the Denison Settlement house in Boston, she was offered the opportunity to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic Ocean. This dramatic 1928 flight in the Fokker Friendship as the first woman passenger, with pilots Stultz and Gordon, brought her international attention and the opportunity to earn a living in aviation. She placed third in the All-Women's Air Derby of 1929, a race she had organized. Her own nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1932, the first for a woman, in the bright red Lockheed Vega 5B (located in the Pioneers of Flight gallery) established her reputation as a great female pilot. Other record flights include: the first solo transcontinental flight by a woman from Los Angeles to Newark in 1932, the first solo flight by anyone from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland in 1935, the first nonstop flight from Mexico City to Newark in May 1935, and the first altitude record in the Pitcairn Autogiro. Earhart served as a founding member and president of the Ninety-Nines (the original women pilots organization), partner in the Transcontinental Air Transport and Ludington airlines, and a designer of clothes and luggage. She tirelessly lectured across the country on the subjects of aviation and women's issues and published several books. She was also a visiting professor and counselor at Purdue University. Earhart was a two-time Harmon Trophy winner and was also the recipient of the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. On June 1, 1937, Earhart began an around-the-world flight from Miami, Florida in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra with Fred Noonan as her navigator. They reached Lae in New Guinea on June 29, having flown 22,000 miles with 7,000 more to go. Earhart and Noonan never found Howland Island, their next refueling stop after leaving Lae and they were declared lost at sea on July 18, 1937 following a massive sea and air search ordered personally by President Roosevelt. Although Earhart's disappearance has spawned innumerable theories, her true legacies as a courageous and dedicated aviatior and an inspiration to women remain strong today.