Saturday, November 11, 2017

Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator

Amelia Earhart and the mystery of her tragic attempt to fly around the world still captures the imagination of people everywhere. The Legend of the Lost Aviator presents Amelia's life story beginning with her childhood. Her growing up years were spent in Atchinson, Kansas in her grandparents home. Amelia and her sister, Muriel rode horses, went bike riding, and played tennis and basketball. They also loved to explore the banks of the Missouri River and to pretend to travel all over the world. This latter pastime was to foreshadow Amelia life.

After her beloved grandmother's death, Amelia's family moved frequently, meaning that she attended many different high schools. Her parents eventually separated. Muriel went to college in Toronto, Ontario, while Amelia studied near Philadelphia.

In 1917, with World War I raging, Amelia decide to become a nurses aide and moved to Toronto. Her interest in flying was piqued by a visit to a military air field with her father in 1920. A ride in a plane did exactly the opposite her father was hoping - she

It was unusual for a woman to learn to fly but Amelia managed to take lessons from Neta Snook, a female pilot and instructor. She quickly purchase her first plane, a yellow Kinner Airster, which was a small, very light plane. Although Amelia had several crashes, she remained undaunted.

For a while Amelia settled down to a somewhat normal life, working as a social worker helping immigrant families. But in 1928 Amelia received a phone call that would profoundly change her life and set in motion the events that would lead to tragedy nine years later. George Putnam, a publisher, promoter and Amelia's future husband,invited her to be a part of a flight from Trepassey, Newfoundland to Southampton, England and so become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Although she would not actually fly the plane, Amelia agreed. After this success, Amelia was inspired to not only promote flying as a means of transportation, but to undertake her own daring flights. These flights became longer, set records and became riskier. The last of those flights would be her attempt to fly with Fred Noonan, around the world in 1937. She never completed the flight and exactly what happened to her and Fred remains a mystery to this day.

Canadian award-winning author, Shelley Tanaka has written an engaging account of Amelia Earhart's life and adventures. The Legend of the Lost Aviator is filled with photographs of Amelia, her family and her husband, the planes she flew and of her life promoting flying. Tanaka used Amelia Earhart's own writings as the source for her writing, capturing the determined spirit of Amelia as the world's premier female aviator.  Accompanying Tanaka's well written text are the rich,colourful illustrations of Canadian artist, David Craig. The back of this book contains a list of books, articles and websites for further research.

For more information about Amelia Earhart readers are directed to the Smithsonian Magazine's online website. 

Those who are interested in a picture book devoted to Amelia's flight across the Atlantic should read Robert Burleigh's Night Flight.
Amelia on her aircraft before departing Miami, 1937

Book Details:

Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator
New York: Abrams Books For Young Readers 2008
48 pp.

No comments: