Iowa History Daily: On June 1, 1937, world-renowned pilot Amelia Earhart departed on her infamous attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world. A resident of Des Moines from 1908 to 1914, Earhart saw her first ever airplane at the Iowa State Fair during her time living in Iowa’s capital city.
Born in 1897, Earhart spent the early part of her childhood living with her grandparents in Atchison, Kansas, while her father worked as a lawyer for the Rock Island Railroad. In 1907, the Rock Island transferred Edwin Earhart to Des Moines. The following year his daughters Amelia and Muriel joined him. The family struggled due to Edwin’s alcoholism, and lived in at least five different residences during their six years in Des Moines.
Amelia Earhart attended the State Fair when she first arrived in Des Moines as a ten year old where she first saw an airplane. “It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting,” Earhart later recalled. Up until her move to Iowa, Earhart did not attend public school. First enrolling at a twelve year old seventh grader.
After moving to Chicago in 1914, Earhart eventually found herself learning to fly in California taking flight lessons from an Iowan formerly of Ames named Neta Snook Southern. A whirlwind of success followed the flying lessons, and Earhart gained international fame when she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in June of 1928. Later, in September of 1928, Earhart became the first woman to fly from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast.
Following the initial run of famous flights, Earhart returned to Iowa on a speaking tour. As accomplishment continued to accrue for the former Des Moines resident, the dream of flying around the world started to take shape. On June 1, 1937, the engines roared as Earhart climbed into the sky. The following day, a final transmission from the plane called out “KHAQQ calling Itasca (a US Coast Guard ship). We must be one you but cannot see you…gas is running low…” #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar