You could argue that Amelia Earhart was the Oprah Winfrey of her time. She was independent, successful and a media star in her own right. Yet when her plane disappeared in a 1937 attempt to fly around the world, many of her accomplishments seemed to be lost with it. Instead of talking about how she lived, the world became fascinated with how she died. To this day, her plane has never been found and theories on her disappearance abound. They range from the practical (her plane ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere around Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean) to the bizarre (she survived the flight, moved to New Jersey and assumed a new identity).
You may know Earhart as the first female pilot to attempt to fly around the world or you may only know her from the mysterious way that she disappeared, but she was so much more than a great unsolved mystery—she was a true pioneer for women.
"[Earhart left behind] that sense that women should be all that they can be," says Susan Butler, author of East to Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart
. "She told them they should bring more to marriage than their bodies…they had minds they could develop, they could graduate from college. What she wanted to do was raise women's expectations. She wasn't a doctrinaire person—she just wanted women to be accepted for their talents on an individual basis."Meet the modern-day Amelia Earhart