Amelia Rose Earhart

Backstage Pass: Circling the Globe with Amelia Rose Earhart

Amelia Rose Earhart has lived up to her name: This year, she retraced Amelia Earhart’s path around the globe, completing the historic, ultimately mysterious flight. An impressive undertaking (although last night fellow CIW Explorers Speaker Captain James Lovell begged to differ, joking on stage, “With due respect, Amelia, I did circle the globe in 88 minutes”), the flight is an accomplishment that Earhart feels honors her namesake, and has the potential to inspire other aspiring “aviatrixes.”

Amelia Rose Earhart

Amelia Rose Earhart’s trip around the world completed her namesake’s historic flight.

So we have to ask: Your name is Amelia Earhart.  Does that mean you’ve been piloting planes since the womb?  When did you get started?

Every single day getting asked [when I was a kid] if I was a pilot—being named Amelia Earhart—it just kind of got old. I finally said, I have to give this a try to see what’s possible. I took my first flight lesson at age 21, and I’ve been flying ever since. And I just truly did fall in love with it.So we have to ask: Your name is Amelia Earhart. Does that mean you’ve been piloting planes since the womb? When did you get started?

I think it’s good my parents gave me the name, but they never said, “You should fly. You should go into aviation.” That way I didn’t run away from it.

Then you went from flying—and loving it—to preparing to fly Amelia Earhart’s path around the globe. What was the planning process like for that type of endeavor?

It took a year and half worth of planning. Everything from studying the meteorological systems around the world to climate through all 14 countries we were going through, the best time of year to fly to avoid those big weather discrepancies ahead of hurricane season. We had to get overflight permission in every country that we traveled through. We had to plan to have a host meet us in every spot. They would arrive and help us with fueling and customs and landing fees.

The list of detail that went into the flight was just incredible. Over 16,000 emails were exchanged just in the planning round…and I was a part of all of them.

And once that trip was done—what was your feeling about the whole experience—relief, elation, pride?

I can’t look at a map of the world the same way any more. It’s a totally different concept to me. I felt accomplished and proud and like we honored Amelia in the best way possible, but there was a little bit of a let down. What do I do now? The day you wake up after flying around the world, and you wake up in your own bed—well, going to the grocery store doesn’t feel the same.

Then, we have to ask: What do you do now?

I’m running my foundation. It’s the Fly with Amelia Foundation. We put young girls through flight school. They’re age 16 through 18 because that’s when have girls have energy and enthusiasm. They just need a little bit of direction and financial help. So I’m developing a STEM curriculum of aviation.

Why is it important for you to share your story via platforms like CIW?

This type of conference, and this type of activity, is vitally important.  The people who you’re going to see on stage are not the people who are going out there and saying, “You should get into aviation.  You shouldclimb a mountain.  You should  become a photographer.”  They’re just doing it.  These are leaders who are leading by example.  People get inspired when they see others that have gone and done great things before them, but to see someone face-to-face like this in an intimate setting like this is really what it’s all about.

Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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