May’s Deep Dive into History Amelia Earhart Flies Across the Atlantic

Early in the morning of May 20, 1932, airplane pilot Amelia Earhart left Newfoundland, Canada. Nearly 15 hours later, she landed in a pasture in Northern Ireland. This event crowned her as the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

In honor of this historic day, let’s take a look back on the life of Amelia Earhart, an aviation pioneer.

Birthplace and Childhood Home, Atchison, Kansas

Amelia was born in her grandparents’ home in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897. She lived her from age three to 13, and found her time here to be some of the best memories of her life.

The house white wood-framed Gothic Revival home on bank of the Missouri River, was built in 1861. It is now a museum of Amelia’s childhood, and is a great place to go to learn more about the world’s most famous female pilot, and about women in aviation.

Amelia Earhart's House (Former) (StreetView)
Amelia Earhart's House (Former)

Iowa State Fair Grounds, Des Moines, Iowa

When Amelia was ten years old, the family went to the state fair in Des Moines. There, she saw her first aircraft. Amusingly, she was not impressed, and turned down her father’s invite to take a ride. It wasn’t until she was a young woman that she flew in an airplane, but once she did, the rest was history.

Iowa State Fairgrounds (Google Maps)
Iowa State Fairgrounds

Departure Site, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, CA

After years of promoting flight, and women in flight, Amelia determined to set the record as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Early on May 20, 1932, she departed Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. She had a newspaper in hand to prove she didn’t fake the journey.

The town erected a statue to Amelia, and a local famous airplane is adjacent, making it a wonderful monument to aviation, and to the role aviation has played in the region.

The Spirit of Harbour Grace (StreetView)
The Spirit of Harbour Grace

Landing Site, Culmore, Northern Ireland

Aiming for Paris, France, Amelia encountered difficult weather and had mechanical trouble throughout the flight. On May 21, 1932, she landed in a pasture in Culmore, Northern Ireland. A farmer asked where she’d flown from and she shocked him when she said “From America”. She was an international hero!

Amelia Earhart Landing Site (StreetView)
Amelia Earhart Landing Site

Red Vega Aircraft, On Display at Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

For years, Amelia flew a red Lockheed Vega. But in 1933, she realized she would need a more powerful aircraft to help her accomplish her bigger goals.

She sold her Vega to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. But in 1966, the Smithsonian acquired the aircraft. The airplane is now on display in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery in the National Air and Space Museum.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Google Maps)
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Last Departure Site, Lae, Papua New Guinea

In 1937, Amelia determined to be the first person to fly around the world. She elected to fly with navigator Fred Noonan. The journey was uneventful through most of it, and they reached Lae, Papua New Guinea on June 29, 1937. The city, which is the second-largest in the country, has a memorial to Amelia, although it is pretty unremarkable.

Amelia and Fred took off from Lae Airfield on July 2, 1937 at midnight. The team anticipated a 15 hour flight reach tiny Howland Island, which was about 2,500 miles away.

Lae Nadzab Airport (LAE) (Google Maps)
Lae Nadzab Airport (LAE)

Howland Island

Howland Island is a tiny, uninhabited, remote Pacific island that is an unorganized territory of the United States. It is visited every two years by Fish and Wildlife teams, but other than that, it is completely void of human life. In the 1930s, the US tried to settle the island, but its remote location, lack of reliable water, and lack of biodiversity made it difficult to maintain.

The sliver of an island was planned to be one of Amelia and Fred’s last stopping points before reaching Hawaii. An airstrip was constructed in anticipation of their arrival, but it has since been abandoned.

The two were supposed to land there late on July 2, and continue to Honolulu and then to Oakland, where the journey would be complete. Their radio communication and signals indicated they were in the area, but they never landed, and no trace of them was ever found.

Howland Island (Amelia Earhart's Destination) (Google Maps)
Howland Island (Amelia Earhart's Destination)

Possible Final Location Site, Noriti, Kiribati

Immediately after the team went missing, ships in the area searched desperately for signs of life. None were found. Eventually, official searches were called off and Amelia and Fred were declared dead. However, people continue to look for, and find, potential clues about the missing adventurers.

One possible location is Nikumaroro, in Kiribati, a country made up of about 30 islands. The island is about 400 miles southeast of Howland Island. It’s a popular theory that Amelia and Fred crashed here and survived for an unspecified time. Some human artifacts dated to roughly the same time period have been found on the island, but no conclusive evidence whatsoever has put the team on the island.

Nikumaroro (Google Maps)

After so many years, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever know where Amelia and Fred went, but we can look back and be so grateful for Amelia’s bravery, her unrelenting courage and curiosity, and her contributions to aviation.

2020: So Long, and Farewell

Well, 2020 was a year to remember, to say the least. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the past, so we can put it behind us and really look forward to the future.

Australian Wildfires

The world should have known 2020 would be intense on January 1. Already on that date, Australia was in the middle of one of the worst fire seasons in the country’s history. No region was spared, with 80 percent of the population impacted, more than 500 million animals killed, and 34 people killed.

Fires even threatened urban centers such as Sydney and the capital, Canberra. The smoke was so bad in the capital city that residents were forced indoors and could not enjoy the summer weather at places like the famous Commonwealth Park.

Commonwealth Park (Google Maps)
Commonwealth Park

Impeachment of President Donald Trump

For much of 2019, the US news focused on the pending impeachment of President Trump. In December, the US House of Representatives voted to approve articles of impeachment against the President.

In January 2020, the trial began in the Senate. However, the President was acquitted of all charges, on a nearly party-line vote. Nonetheless, the indictment by the House will serve as a black mark on President Trump’s legacy, and will be one of the biggest stories of 2020.

US Capitol Building (Google Maps)
US Capitol Building

Kobe Bryant

On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant boarded a helicopter with his oldest daughter on their way to a basketball camp. Not long after takeoff, the helicopter crashed, killing all nine passengers on board. Bryant’s death shook the nation, as he was only 41, and was still very involved in basketball, charities, and most importantly, being a father to four girls.

Kobe and his family lived in the exclusive Pelican Crest community in Newport Coast. The custom-built house with views of the coast has nearly 16,000 square feet of living space spread out over four floors.

After his death, fans gathered outside the community’s gates and left flowers and other items in a makeshift memorial.

Kobe Bryant's House (Google Maps)
Kobe Bryant's House

Harvey Weinstein

After years of speculation and rumor, Harvey Weinstein was finally charged with committing sex crimes against women in 2018. The trial commenced in January 2020, and on February 24, he was convicted, and later sentenced to 23 years in prison.

For the next 23 years, Harvey Weinstein will call the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York his home.

Wende Correctional Facility (Google Maps)
Wende Correctional Facility

Weinstein sold his house in the Hamptons in 2018 for $10 million, less than what he paid for it six years earlier. This is just one of many properties he sold following his arrest.

Harvey Weinstein's House (Former) (Google Maps)
Harvey Weinstein's House (Former)

Covid-19 Pandemic

The thing on everyone’s mind for most of the year has been the spread of Covid-19 throughout the world, causing a global pandemic.

While no one knows where the virus initially started, some of the earliest reported cases spread at or near a wet, or seafood, market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It was first diagnosed in late winter 2019. Thousands quickly fell sick and many died, indicating the virus was extremely contagious, causing global concern.

Huanan Seafood Market (Google Maps)
Huanan Seafood Market

The virus came to the United States in early 2020, and hit metropolitan centers very hard. New York City was the epicenter of the initial outbreak. The city was so overwhelmed that they even prepared a makeshift hospital at the Javits Convention Center. Fortunately, it was only used for a short time before the first wave subsided in the area.

'Jacob K. Javits Convention Center' by James Freed (Google Maps)
'Jacob K. Javits Convention Center' by James Freed

Death of George Floyd

On May 25, George Floyd was killed while in police custody outside a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had allegedly passed a counterfeit bill.

Site where George Floyd was murdered (StreetView)
Site where George Floyd was murdered

The frustration with Floyd’s murder and continued police brutality and racial discrimination boiled over into massive protests, riots, and demonstrations across the country. Government leaders embraced the protests in many places, including Washington, D.C., where the city renamed the plaza outside the White House as Black Lives Matter Plaza.

"Black Lives Matter - Defund the police" on 16th. Street NW (Google Maps)
"Black Lives Matter - Defund the police" on 16th. Street NW

Beiruit Explosion

In the late afternoon of August 4, a large explosion occurred in downtown Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The blast was caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the city’s port for several years.

The blast was so strong it was felt in neighboring countries, killed at least 204 people, and wounded more than 6,500. It caused more than $15 billion in damage, and both the cleanup and investigations are still ongoing.

Building Explosion, Beirut, Lebanon (4 AUG 2020) (Google Maps)
Building Explosion, Beirut, Lebanon (4 AUG 2020)

Kamala Harris

On August 11, Kamala Harris made history. Joe Biden selected her as his running mate, making her the first African American, first Asian American, and third woman to be a part of a major party presidential ticket. She again made history on November 3, when she and Joe Biden were elected to lead the US for the next four years.

A current Senator for California, she maintains a home in the tony LA neighborhood of Brentwood, as her husband is a famous Hollywood attorney.

Kamala Harris' House (Google Maps)
Kamala Harris' House

West Coast Wildfires

It wasn’t enough that much of Australia was on fire earlier this year; the western US also experienced one of the worst fire seasons on record as well. More than 37 people were killed in fires that spread across California, Oregon, and Washington states.

Fires raged across the west for most of the summer and much of the fall. Fires destroyed thousands of homes, including in Shaver Lake, California, where movies such as Captain America had been filmed.

Shaver Lake ("Captain Marvel") (StreetView)
Shaver Lake ("Captain Marvel")

Alex Trebeck

American game show host Alex Trebek announced in 2018 that he had pancreatic cancer, and passed away on November 8, 2020 from the disease. The 80 year old had become a beloved American cultural icon as the host of Jeopardy! He hosted the show for 37 years.

Trebek and his wife had a 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles, but his wealth and fame didn’t stop him from doing everyday things like taking out the trash, which he was seen doing on a regular basis, even when he was fighting cancer.

Trebek set an example for all to follow. In a pre-recorded show that aired after his death, Trebek gave words of encouragement for the world, saying “There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that’s a good thing.. Keep the faith. We’re going to get through all this and we are going to be a better society because of it.”

Alex Trebek's House (Google Maps)
Alex Trebek's House

Covid-19 Vaccines are Rolled Out

In what might be a sign that 2021 will be better than 2020, multiple vaccines for the Covid-19 virus were approved for use in the US and other countries in December.

On December 10th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave “emergency use authorization” to Pfizer’s vaccine, and on December 18th, they gave the same authorization to Moderna’s vaccine. These two vaccines will help people all over the world by giving them immunity to Covid-19.

The work at the FDA in 2020 has been a bright spot in what has otherwise been a difficult year for many.

Food and Drug Administration (Google Maps)
Food and Drug Administration

Here’s to hoping the vaccines will help and that Alex Trebek was right and that 2021 will be more rewarding, and less newsworthy, than 2020. Happy New Year!