UPDATE 7/11/14: Congratulations Amelia! She completed the famous around-the-world flight of her namesake, becoming the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft!
“We did it! We’re earthrounders…In the best way we knew how, we brought Amelia’s spirit home safely to Oakland”…Amelia Rose Earhart, from her tweets shortly after landing
UPDATE 6/26/14: Photos: Pilot Amelia Earhart Arrives North Field Oakland to Begin Flight Around World
By Stacey Gualandi/June 23, 3014
Amelia Earhart, yes, you read it right, is about to recreate the famous flight of her namesake to inspire and empower young women. Amelia Rose Earhart is a former Denver news anchor and has spent months preparing to fly a single-engine plane around the globe.
“…I want to lead by example which is having a big adventure, leading an adventurous life in general and this is the biggest adventure I can undertake.” Amelia Rose Earhart
It is the same route flown by the Amelia Earhart back in 1937. She hopes to begin the trek June 26 and complete it in 17 days. If she does, this 31-year-old would be the youngest pilot to recreate this historic journey.
I got the chance to speak to this intrepid flyer in this excerpt of The Women’s Eye Radio Show recently. Wait ’til she tells you about what she’s trying to accomplish…
STACEY: My mouth has just dropped thinking about what you are going to do. The big question is why do this?
AMELIA: Having been named Amelia Earhart for 31 years now, I get asked on a daily basis, “Are you related to Amelia?” The answer is, “No.” The next question is, “Are you a pilot?” Until I was 21 I was saying, “No.”
Bendix King Pilot Story: Amelia Rose Earhart interview
I would get this question from people, “Do you think you could learn to fly?” So I thought, “I have to give this a shot.” Ten years ago I took my very first flight lesson in Boulder, Colorado in a tiny old plane with a crochety old flight instructor and I fell in love with it.
From that day forward, I put every spare penny towards flight training. In the back of my mind I thought maybe I could fly all the way around the world. And, this year it’s going to happen.
STACEY: You’ve said that you and Amelia Earhart share a spirit to soar. Why?
AMELIA: We absolutely do. She left such a legacy back in the 1930’s. When she started flying she was really paving the runway for future women in aviation. She was saying, “You don’t have to be a boy to get out there and fly these beautiful pieces of machinery.” Anyone can do that.
“She really set a good example. I want to propel Amelia’s legacy forward for the next generation of pilots. I run a foundation that puts young women of high school age through flight school.”
It’s fine to raise money for that, but in addition I want to lead by example, which is having a big adventure, leading an adventurous life in general and this is the biggest adventure I can undertake.
STACEY: There’s a lot of preparation to do this I would imagine. Tell us about that.
AMELIA: Exactly right. I’ve been flying airplanes for 10 years. Four of those years I spent in a news helicopter reporting on breaking news, weather and traffic in Denver and Los Angeles. I wasn’t piloting the helicopter but being in the air, plus the 4,000 hours I spent up there in flight training all those years, just added up and makes me feel more comfortable.
About a year and half ago, I started planning the route and how much fuel would it take. I’ve studied to be a meteorologist, so I looked into the climate for all the different areas I would be going through.
For example, at 30,000 feet over the equator you get a huge area of convergence of weather systems in the summer months–big lifting clouds, huge thunderstorms, and extreme turbulence. So you have to plan around all that and take the safest routes possible.
STACEY: Obviously, there was a reason your parents named you Amelia Earhart. Do you feel like you are trying to set an example as well, even though it’s been 70 years since the first Amelia Earhart attempted this?
AMELIA: For the first 18 years of my life I didn’t know what to do with that name. I was teased a lot in school, so I went by “Amy,” a nickname I picked up from my Grandma and went with that for awhile. When I was 18 and on the debate team, I started using the name Amelia Earhart more often.
My parents actually wanted to give me a great role model, a good positive influence and they wanted everybody to remember my name. And, now that I’m tying it back to aviation, I think there is a much bigger purpose for all of it.
STACEY: I’m sure you are aware of the attention you are going to get, and already got. Are you prepared for that?
AMELIA: I think working in television for eight years prepares me a little bit for all the interest, but now we are getting attention from all over the world.
You know 99% of it is positive and people are cheering me on. It’s encouraging to know that people still believe in adventure for the sake of adventure. We are going to raise a lot of money for the foundation, that’s one thing. A lot of girls do flight school.
“I think when you watch someone else go for the adventure, it can inspire you in your own life to say, “How can I push my own limits? How far can I go with my own personal adventure outside of aviation?” I am hoping people will get out there and say if Amelia can do it, so can I!”
STACEY: How do your parents feel about you embarking on this flight?
AMELIA: They go through ups and downs. I sometimes think they think, “Oh, what did we do? We made her this crazy daredevil because we gave her that name.” Even if I wasn’t named Amelia Earhart, I would be doing something crazy. I’m a skydiver, a rock climber, anything that’s fun for me. It’s part of my DNA.
I talk to my mom and dad almost every day about my flight. They understand this is an adventure so there is risk involved. I am managing that risk as well as I can.
STACEY: I read you have a fear of the ocean? How did you deal with that?
AMELIA: A little bit of fear. It was a bit unexpected. My dad would go surfing and take me to the ocean. Once I tumbled under the water and I was always fearful from that time on. Part of the training I went through for over-water flights is was going to an ocean survival course.
You basically get thrown off the boat in the middle of the ocean; you cannot see land. They teach you how survive with a life raft and a survival kit. I had to face that. I tell you I liked being in the air better.
It felt good to understand that even if something goes terribly wrong on the flight, which it won’t, I can handle myself in that situation.
STACEY: Are you taking the exact same route that the first Amelia Earhart took?
AMELIA: We’ve kept this as close as we possibly could. Politically, there were a few areas we could not replicate. Going through the Middle East was not going to happen. We want to complete the flight safely and securely. We want to make it a successful symbolic completion of Amelia’s flight.
“This is so exciting because we are departing from the exact same hangar that Amelia departed from in 1937. That is really special to me. It’s a 28,000 mile voyage, 14 countries 17 stops, and with all that, 80% of the flight is over water.”
STACEY: WOW! Amelia, you just heard what you said, right?
AMELIA: Yes, I know! It’s just starting to sink in now that we are getting so close. The final preparations– everything from how I am going to get from the airport to my hotel–are details I am managing. It’s also taking care of the little things, like the de-icing spray for inside the fuel tank.
STACEY: You aren’t doing this alone. You have a co-pilot on this trip as well, right?
AMELIA: I do. There is a lot to manage on this flight. It is a single pilot aircraft. You can fly this with one single person. I brought on Shane Jordan as my co-pilot because he knows this aircraft inside and out.
He’s a great person and won’t drive me crazy in the cockpit. He’s a good conversationalist! We are managing the entire aircraft, going through unfamiliar parts of the world, handling 200 gallons of extra fuel on board, as well as a satellite communications system.
“We will be broadcasting the flight live from the cockpit. There has to be camaraderie. Going around the world, seeing 17 sunrises around the globe would be boring by yourself. So I want to share it with someone.”
STACEY: There is going to be a big social media component to this trip too?
AMELIA: I love social media. And it’s a big part of the success we’ve gotten so far. We are going to be live tweeting with the onboard wifi on the plane as well as Instagramming and facebooking gorgeous pictures. We’re using the hashtag #flywithamelia.
STACEY: That’s the name of your foundation as well.
AMELIA: I chose that because from the very first time I felt like I was flying with Amelia. It’s her legacy and what she left behind.
STACEY: Since we’ve never known what happened to her, does that play into this at all?
AMELIA: To this day there is still a search going on for Amelia. It shows what an impact she left. For my foundation and my flying, I have chosen not to focus on her disappearance and death but rather on the impact she made while she was living and the things she was able to control while she was alive.
She was empowering women, getting out there, pushing her own boundaries. She was an American legend. What we can do with the foundation by awarding scholarships in Amelia’s name is propel aviation into the future. Hopefully we will leave a lasting mark with that.
STACEY: Talking about being a legend, you are set to be the youngest woman to accomplish a flight around the world. How does that feel?
AMELIA: You know I didn’t even know that when I first started planning this trip. I will be the youngest woman to fly single-engine plane around the world. I initially looked at records like breaking the speed record, this or that, but that wasn’t really where my heart was.
STACEY: Are you thinking beyond this flight?
AMELIA: Now that we are honing in on the trip, I am not focused on what happens afterwards. For me the adventure started 10 years ago when I started flying. This is not the completion of the adventure. This is a continuation of what my career in aviation looks like.
I would love to write books about the process. I am writing a children’s book right now to teach kids about flying.
STACEY: Did anyone try to talk you out of this?
AMELIA: I’ve had some naysayers. But, it all comes back to being content with your own situation. It’s something I had to learn as a broadcaster, which I’m sure you go through, where people don’t like this or that. What I go back to is if you are in a good place and your are focusing on your own happiness, you are not going to put anyone else down.
I’ve seen a huge outpouring of support from all over the world. It gets even better when a twelve-year-old girl writes a handwritten letter that says, “I love what you are doing. Please send me a picture.” That’s really what matters.
“Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver is contacting schools. Kids are writing me questions on 3×5 cards to take on the flight to read as I go.”
STACEY: Would you go back to broadcasting after all this?
AMELIA: It’s hard to say. I think if the right thing came along, something that was more adventure-focused, good news-focused, I think I could. Now that I’ve been outside a day job and had the ability to focus on something that gives back 100% through the foundation, I think I want to go that direction.
STACEY: Amelia Earhart, we all hope you enjoy every moment of your adventure. Thank you so much for your time. We’ll be following you on your website and reading your tweets. We want to follow up with you when you return.