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Today in History: Amelia Earhart Takes First Solo Flight From Hawaii to California

Monday, January 11, 2010

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On this day in 1935 Amelia Earhart completed the first solo flight from Honolulu to Oakland, California. According to reports at the time, her takeoff was nearly a disaster. It had been raining all morning, but by late afternoon the weather cleared. As Earhart taxied down the runway one of the wheels got caught in a patch of mud, according to the biography Amelia: a life of the aviation legend by Donald M. Goldstein, Katherine V. Dillon. But then the wheel hit a bump, and Earhart pushed the throttle giving her the thrust she needed for takeoff.

The flight was smooth. The last half-hour, which Earhart said was always the hardest of any flight, 'If there are any clouds about to make shadows one is likely to see much imaginary land.' The last 30 minutes of this flight were so smooth, Earhart said she was listening to the broadcast of New York Metropolitan Opera in the cockpit.

Below is a speech she made shortly after landing in Oakland:

For more, listen to The Takeaway's discussion with another pioneer who has participated in many firsts for women pilots. Major Nicole Malachowski is a senior pilot in the Air Force and just five years ago became the first woman to join part of the elite Thunderbird squad, also known as the Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron.

Special thanks to WNYC’s Director of Archives Andy Lanset

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