OAKLAND, Calif. — With her parents and crowds of supporters present, globe-trotting pilot Amelia Rose Earhart fulfilled the significance of her name when she landed at the Oakland Airport on Friday evening.
“I feel like we’ve brought Amelia Earhart home to Oakland,” she said at the completion of her 24,300-mile journey. “She brought me all this way, and I got to carry her forward.”
In honor of her namesake, she symbolically finished the 1937 global flight that the famed aviatrix tragically failed to complete.
When her plane descended from the clear sky, her mother Deborah Dale was waiting on tiptoes and at the brink of tears. Once Earhart got off the plane, she bypassed the swarming media to hug her mother and her father, Glen Earhart.
“I have goose bumps. The hairs are standing up on my arm,” Dale said. “I am so proud of her.”
Earhart has come a long way from the days when the famous name her mother gave her used to embarrass her, so she went by Amy instead. People would always ask if she was a pilot. She would answer no, until she thought “Why not?”
She earned her license at 21 after juggling multiple jobs and her studies at the University of Colorado Boulder to pay for flight lessons.
Now the 31-year-old who lives in Denver runs a nonprofit, the Fly With Amelia Foundation, which sends girls aged 16 to 18 to flight school. She hopes her story and around-the-world flight will inspire girls to fly.
“Who knew she was going to do the obvious and fly,” Dale said. “She did this because she has something to give.”
Her journey could be followed through her web site and by using the Twitter hashtag flywithamelia.
“We just circled Howland Island. I’ve always respected AE and her bravery,” Earhart tweeted on July 9, “but seeing this tiny island takes it to a whole new level.”
Her hands shook not from feeling fear, she said, but from forging a deeper connection with her namesake while flying over the atoll in the central Pacific Ocean where the original Earhart disappeared.
“As we left, I thought this is no longer Amelia’s flight,” she said. “This is my flight. We’re carrying it forward from Howland Island from where she left off and so from that moment on it kind of had this new surge of adventure.”
Her predecessor and navigator Fred Noonan used the stars, maps and Morse code — antiquated compared to Earhart and her co-pilot Shane Jordan’s GPS, laptop and other modern equipment.