DALLAS – Today in Aviation, iconic aviator Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo between Hawaii and the US mainland in 1935. Using her trusty Lockheed 5C Vega aircraft, she departed Honolulu’s Wheeler Field just before 17:00 local time bound for Oakland, California.
The 2,408-mile crossing took her nearly 19 hours to complete. More than 10,000 people greeted Earhart when she arrived in Oakland. Ten previous aviators had died while attempting the crossing. But for Earhart, the flight was a breeze, with no mechanical incidents to hamper the attempt.
She was even able to listen to “the broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from New York” in the final hours of the journey.
Indeed Earhart was continually asked to abandon the attempt, even by her sponsors. But she was adamant, “I intend to fly to California within this next week, with or without your support.”
Earhart took a special pennant, given to her by the Society of Women Geographers during the crossing.
“Old Bessie the Fire Horse”
The Lockheed Vega was a high-wing monoplane powered by a Pratt & Whitney WASP SIDI 550 HP engine. Earhart used the aircraft on a number of her famous flights. She even affectionately dubbed it “old Bessie the fire horse.”
Speaking at the time, Earhart said: “I wanted the flight just to contribute. I could only hope one more passage across that part of the Pacific would mark a little more clearly the pathway over which an air service of the future will inevitably ply.”
Earhart had initially wanted to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, which would have broken her long-distance record for a female pilot. Sadly weather conditions ended her journey in Oakland as planned.
Featured image: Tragically Earhart disappeared during her round the world attempt in 1937. (Photo: New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)