Today in Feminist History: Earhart Flies Again! (June 1, 1937)

Today in Feminist History is our daily recap of the major milestones and minor advancements that shaped women’s history in the U.S.—from suffrage to Shirley Chisholm and beyond. These posts were written by, and are presented in homage to, our late staff historian and archivist, David Dismore.


June 1, 1937: Amelia Earhart is off again!

PHOTO: Amelia Earhart

Undaunted by the near-disaster that occurred when she tried to fly to Howland Island on her first around-the-world attempt, Earhart is determined to finish the task she set for herself on March 17.

After completing extensive repairs to her specially outfitted Lockheed 10-E Electra—damaged by a crash on takeoff on the Hawaii to Howland leg of her trip on March 20th—she and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida, early this morning, and have just landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Technically, her trek began on May 21 in Oakland, California—the same starting point as her original attempt. From there she made a series of fights across the country to test and tune up her plane. Her first stop was Burbank, California, then Tucson, Arizona, and New Orleans, Louisiana, on her way to Miami. But now that the refurbished aircraft has passed all her tests, she declared early this morning that her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world—and the first pilot to circle the globe in an unprecedented way, by staying as close to the Equator as possible—had officially begun.

The new route will be about the same as the one planned for the first trip, but due to prevailing winds being different at this time of the year, she will fly East instead of West. So, the toughest part of the journey will be near the end, when she and Noonan must fly over vast stretches of water, hopping from New Guinea to Howland to Hawaii to Oakland, hoping to arrive home in time for the Fourth-of-July festivities. Today’s seven-and-a-half hour flight was described by both Earhart and Noonan as uneventful, and Earhart praised her navigator’s skill for predicting their time of landfall within one minute.

Earhart says that with all the new equipment and such expert navigation, long-distance flying is now getting pretty easy. Even so, this may be her last such flight. She was recently quoted as saying:

“I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it. Anyway, when I have finished this job, I mean to give up long-distance ‘stunt’ flying.”

If she does decide to devote more time to other pursuits on her return, it’s certain that women’s rights will be high on her agenda. She has been an active member of the National Woman’s Party for many years, and has used her fame to gain access to influential individuals so she could lobby for women’s equality. Just one example was when she and National Woman’s Party officers met with then-President Hoover at the White House on September 22, 1932. As an example of her continuing dedication to equality, she sent a telegram to the N.W.P. at its most recent national convention, saying: 

“Because my lecture schedule prevents, I cannot be at the Biennial Convention. However, I am so deeply interested in women obtaining full equality under the law that I am sending a small contribution to help the cause. Today women still stand victims of restrictive class legislation and of conflicting interpretation of statutes. To clear the situation their rights must be made theirs by definition – that is, by Constitutional guarantee. Therefore this year’s National Woman’s Party meeting may bring us at least one step nearer the Lucretia Mott [Equal Rights] Amendment.”

Many thanks, Amelia, for your past contributions to both aviation and women’s rights, and the best of luck on your newest and boldest adventure!


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About

David Dismore is the archivist for the Feminist Majority Foundation. His journey from would-be weather forecaster to full-time feminist began with the powerful impression made by a photo and a few paragraphs about the suffragists in his high school history textbook; years later, he had his first encounter with NOW—in which he carefully peeked in a window before opening the door to be sure men were allowed. He was eventually active in the ERA extension campaign of 1978, embarked on a cross-country bikeathon for it in 1982 and even worked for pioneers Toni Carabillo and Judith Meuli.