Today’s Google Doodle sets out to honor Amelia Earhart on her 115th birthday. Born on July 24th, 1897, Earhart was an author and aviation pioneer, widely known for being the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Earhart was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross as a result of her feat, and set several other records in the field as well. Some of Earhart’s bestselling books included retellings of her flight experiences, and her stories and passion for aviation inspired many women throughout the United States, including Eleanor Roosevelt.
Amelia Mary Earhart, or ‘Meeley’, grew up in Kansas with her younger sister Grace Muriel Earhart- ‘Pidge.’ Having been raised in an unconventional manner, Amelia was always encouraged to pursue her interests and spent most of her childhood climbing trees, hunting rats with a rifle, collecting insects and toads, and ‘belly slamming’ her sled downhill.
Amelia and her sister were homeschooled until she was 12 years old; only then were they sent to public school. Despite the numerous moves and relocations throughout her family life, Amelia learned that she was “exceedingly fond of reading” and pursued her education passionately, taking particular interest in fields that were mainly male-oriented, including law, advertising, mechanical engineering and film direction and production.
Earhart trained as a nurse’s aide and helped care for soldiers and other World War I casualties after visiting her sister in Toronto and witnessing the wounded in 1917. She continued her service when the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic hit Canada, and later became afflicted with the illness herself.
During the time spent recovering, Earhart attended an air fair in Toronto and witnessed a flying exhibition put on by a World War I ‘ace.’ Later she recalled:
“I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.”
She planned to study medicine at Colombia University, but after a visit to an airfield and an impromptu ride, Earhart’s life had changed.
“By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said.