Earhart's legend lies in a bizarre mix of heroics and mystery. She's best known as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo, from Newfoundland to Culmore in Northern Ireland. But the enduring legacy of Earhart remains her whereabouts, after disappearing in her Lockheed Model 10 Electra during while attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.
I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it, she said before embarking on the flight. Completing the flight would have made her the first female pilot to complete the feat.
Earhart, born in 1897, was not initially impressed by planes. It was not until she took a short plane ride at a California airshow in 1920 that she became smitten.
By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly, she said. Her timing could not have been better.
Her trans-Atlantic flight made Earhart the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, a medal given by the United States Congress.
Earhart's rise to fame coincided with bizarro millionaire Howard Hughes and Charles Lindbergh's forays into the sky, and marketed a golden age of aviation where daring pilots enjoyed as much acclaim as modern-day celebrities.
Earhart's renowned earned her the nickname Lady Lindy, putting her in the same company as Lindbergh, who became internationally famous for his flight from Garden City, N.Y., to Le Bourget Field in France.
Taking to the sky quickly became more synonymous with war and death shortly after the golden era, as planes offered warring factions a death from above options during World War II, eventually becoming the delivery mechanism for the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasak, Japan, in 1945.
It was not until John Glenn, Sputnick, and the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 that the world again was enamored with taking to the skies. Enter into that mold Sally Ride, who became the U.S.'s first female astronaut in 1978. The Stanford Ph.D. quickly became the poster-child of a generation of girls.
Her death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61 on Monday, followed immediately by Earhart's birthday, can only serve as the sort of coincidence that only binds the sky-bound heroines tighter.