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In 1937, America's beloved aviatrix, Amelia Mary Earhart, set out to break yet another record by embarking on a 29,000-mile flight around the globe. However, her plane disappeared over the South Pacific without a trace, giving birth to one of the biggest mysteries in the history of aviation. Seventy-seven years later, her namesake, Amelia Rose Earhart set out to attempt the same feat. Fortunately, she was successful!
The 31-year-old Denver resident who was named after the former aviator because her mother wanted her to have an unforgettable name, says that growing up she was constantly asked if wanted to be a pilot. But it was not until 2002 when she was at the University of Colorado in Boulder and asked if she would ever fly around the world, that the idea of mimicking her namesake's final flight, came to her. In 2004, the then 21-year-old worked extra jobs to pay for her first flying lesson, which turned out to be with a cranky instructor in a junky old plane. Nevertheless, she was hooked.
It took Amelia another eight years to hone her flying skills. Preparations for the epic round-the-world trip finally started to come together about two years ago. In addition to finding sponsors to fund the journey which Amelia estimates cost close to $2 million USD, she and her co-pilot 29-year-old Patrick Carter, also underwent intense preparation. This included eight days of training on full-motion simulators to prepare for all emergencies - ranging from engine failure to control malfunction. The two also practiced simulated takeoffs and landings at all the 17 airports they planned to stop at during the flight.
On June 26th at 8.am, Amelia and Patrick took off from Oakland International Airport in a Pilatus PC-12, one of the most technologically advanced planes currently on the market. Unlike the Lockheed Electra 10E that her namesake flew on, the single-engine turboprop was equipped with a dual GPS system that would show the pilots their exact location at all times. An iPad provided real-time flight charts and data, eliminating the need for cumbersome paper maps that her predecessor had to deal with. And of course WiFi connectivity meant that the pilots were able to share every milestone with their fans, via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It was therefore not surprising that the 27,963-mile journey over 14 countries went without a hitch. The epic flight that took the pilots over the tiny Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean, where Amelia Earhart had been supposed to land, came to a successful end on Friday, July 11th, when the adventurers landed at the Oakland International Airport. Amelia who established 'Fly with Amelia Foundation' in 2013, to provide funds for teenage girls to attend flight school, hopes her success will encourage young girls to follow their dream of flying and achieving great things.
Though the modern-day Amelia is the youngest to complete the famous aviator's journey, she is not the only one. In 1967, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of the original Earhart, Chicago resident Ann Pellegreno along with a crew of 3, successfully completed the feat aboard a Lockheed 10A Electra, similar to the one Earhart had flown during her round-the-globe-quest. In 1989, Gaby Kennard became the first Australian woman to circumnavigate the globe by airplane. Flying in a Piper Saratoga, it took her 99 days to complete the journey, which also mimicked Amelia Earhart's flight path as closely as possible.
Resources:usatoday.com, wikipedia.org, cnn.com,npr.com