Air & Space

published : 2023-08-24

August 24, 1932: Amelia Earhart’s Groundbreaking Solo Coast-to-Coast Flight

Earhart navigated her Lockheed Vega 5B across the United States in 19 hours and 5 minutes

Amelia Earhart in her flight suit standing next to her Lockheed Vega 5B, capturing the moment of departure - taken with Canon EOS R5.

On this date - August 24, 1932, history witnessed Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer, completing an unprecedented solo, non-stop flight across the United States. Piloting her Lockheed Vega 5B, Earhart maneuvered from Los Angeles to Newark in a jaw-dropping 19 hours and 5 minutes. The staggering 3,986-kilometer flight (about 2,477 miles) forged an official U.S. record for the greatest women's aerial distance and time, as noted by the National Air and Space Museum.

With an average flight speed of 206.42 kilometers per hour (or approximately 128.27 miles per hour), Earhart majestically cruised at an altitude of 3,048 meters (10,000 feet). Under a year later, she astonishingly established a new transcontinental speed record, completing the identical flight in an unprecedented 17 hours and 7 minutes.

Close-up shot of a pilot's license from the 1930s, celebrating Earhart's achievement of earning hers - taken with Nikon D850.

Born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart was a spirited individual from a young age. She exhibited a keen enthusiasm for nursing wounded soldiers from World War I during a family visit in Canada. Her passion for the skies ignited after her first plane ride in 1920, underpinning her resolution to undertake flying lessons. She rose from junior college drop-out to coronated queen of the skies, fueled by sheer grit, devotion, and an indomitable spirit.

In 1921, she acquired her first aircraft, a Kinner Airster. Two years later, she rightfully earned her pilot's license. Despite her family's concern, she refused to abandon her aviation aspirations, setting an inspirational example for many to follow. Earhart continued pushing boundaries in aviation, earning an unparalleled reputation and setting numerous records.

An eerie yet beautiful aerial view of the Pacific Ocean under the setting sun, symbolizing Earhart's last journey - taken with Sony Alpha a7 III.

Her sense of adventure didn’t limit itself to the United States, as on June 17, 1928, she joined pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on a historic flight from Trepassey, Newfoundland in Canada. Then, on May 20, 1932, she solidified her position in aviation history by becoming the second person and first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. The journey from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Northern Ireland, despite numerous challenges, was completed within a record time of 14 hours 56 minutes.

However, amidst the glory, a sudden tragedy struck on July 2, 1937. In their attempt to navigate the globe, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared after departing New Guinea. Their aircraft, a Lockheed Electra, was lost forever somewhere over the Pacific Ocean despite extensive search operations. She is gone but not forgotten; her enduring legacy continues to inspire budding pilots and inflame passion for aviation.