Chicago’s Contributions to the Development of Heavier-Than-Air Flight
INTRO Chicago The World’s Flying Capital
PART ONE Octave Chanute
PART TWO The Aero Club of Illinois
PART THREE First Aeroplane Flights Over Chicago
PART FOUR Chicago to Springfield
PART FIVE 1911 Aviation Meet
PART SIX Dirigibles
PART SEVEN 1912 Gordon Bennett Race
PART EIGHT Municipal Airport (Midway)
PART NINE 1930 National Air Races and Aeronautical Exposition
PART TEN 1933 American Air Race
PART ELEVEN 1937 Amelia Earhart
PART TWELVE Northerly Island Airport (Meigs Field)
Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1937
Amelia Earhart Putnam, No. 1 woman flyer of the world, is a slim young daughter of America’s middle west. She was born in Atchison, Kas., on July 24, 1898. Her father, Edwin E. Earhart, was an attorney. Amy, as she was known, lived during her teen age years in Chicago and was graduated from Hyde Park High school in 1915,
The tousle-haired Amelia was well known here and on several occasions told Chicago audiences of her air adventures.
Known as Able Student.
She was known as a brilliant student as well as flyer, taking advanced work in experimental chemistry at Columbia university and the University of California and learned to speak five languages. But aviation became the first love of this girl with the shaggy blonde hair.
She entered a plane for the first time when 20 years old, and after only ten hours of instruction made her first solo flight. Within two years she set a woman’s altitude record of 14,000 feet and a year later became the first woman to win the coveted license of the Federation Aeronautique International.
Honors Come Fast.
It was the first of a long string of aviation honors for slim Amelia, which have brought her almost as much fame and as many headlines as Col. Lindbergh, whom she resembles so much that she has been dubbed Lady Lindy. Her feats, achieved after many a courageous brush with death over ocean, jungle, and desert, have definitly stamped the young woman as without a peer among flyers of her sex and as close to the top even in comparison with men pilots.
She is the first woman to fly the Atlantic; the first woman to span the Atlantic alone; the first person to conquer the Atlantic twice; the first woman to fly both the Atlantic and Pacific; the first woman to fly an autogiro; the first woman to be awarded the gold medal of the National Geographic society; the first woman to attempt a round the world Bight.
And those firsts touch only the peaks in her dramatic air career.
Makes Front Page in 1928.
Amelia first burst across the front pages in 1928 when, as a passenger, she flew from Boston, where she was a settlement worker, to Burry, South Wales, with Wilmer Stultz, pilot, and Lou Gordon, co-pilot. Despite her insistence that she had not once handled the controls during the 2,010 mile trip, she immediately became famous.
There was nothing to do, Amelia apparently decided, but to set out to make all the nice things that were being said about her come true. So she did.
She survived half a dozen crack-ups. She raced across the continent a dozen times in both directions, blazing new records as she went.
Becomes Publisher’s Bride.
Amelia became acquainted with George Palmer Putnam, the publisher, when she wrote a book about her flight with Stultz and Gordon. Later Mr. Putnam was divorced by his wife and on Feb. 7, 1931, he married Miss Earhart.
Marriage did not interrupt the career of the daring young flyer. On May 28, 1932, she roared away from Newfoundland alone, bound for Europe, and landed 14 hours 56 minutes later near Londonderry, Ireland. It was the fastest ocean flight on record.
She flew across the United States in July, 1932, breaking the women s record by nearly 10 hours. She broke her own transcontinental record in July, 1933, setting a mark of 17 hours 7 minutes from Los Angeles to New- ark. She continued to write articles and wrote another book. She was made a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by congress.
Flies Alone Across Pacific.
Then came another high spot. On Jan. 11 and 12, 1935, she flew alone across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, Cal., the first woman to perform the feat.
Miss Earhart’s first around the world flight ended at Honolulu last March 20, when her $80,000 plane cracked up after hopping from California. The plane was shipped back to Los Angeles, repaired and tuned up for a second attempt, this time from west to east.
Accompanied by her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, Amelia flew from Oakland, Cal., on May 21, to Miami Fla., then hopped off on June 1. She flew down to Natal, Brazil, dashed across the south Atlantic, and by easy stages, following the equator as much as possible, she piloted her plane across Africa, Arabia, India, Siam, and to British New Guinea. It was from Lae, British New Guinea, that she took off on a 2,570 mile flight to tiny Howland Island, about 2,000 miles southwest of Honolulu.
A Flyer Just for Fun.
Amelia insists that she flies just for fun. And it is in this spirit that she started on the round the world trip. She said one of her greatest interests would be to find out more about the reactions of human beings to flight.
“I’m going to be the guinea pig this time,” she said in talking about her plan. “It will be fun to find out what happens to us humans after hours and hours of flying and why. But it’ll be more fun just to fly and fly and fly.”
Fred J. Noonan, 44 years old, navigator with Amelia Earhart on her trip around the world, is a native Chicagoan with twenty-two years of ocean travel behind him. He is a master mariner, a former transport pilot, and an authority on aerial naviga- tion. He was selected by the Pan- American Airways as the navigator on the experimental flight of the Pan-American Clipper when that fly- ing boat blazed the trail from San Francisco to Honolulu in April, 1935. His wife lives in Miami.
Amelia Earhart in the cockpit of her Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020. The Sperry GyroPilot is at the center of the instrument panel.
Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1937
HONOLULU, July 2.-(IP)-Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, were believed to have been forced down in the Pacific ocean near Howland Island today when their fuel gave out on a flight of 2,570 miles from Lea, New Guinea, the longest and most perilous hop of Miss Earhart’s attempt to fly around the world.
A radio message from them at 2:12 p. m. (Chicago daylight time), saying they had only a half hour s supply of fuel, and that no land was in sight, was believed to indicate they had overshot the coral island, at which they were due between 2 and 4 p. m.
This map of the Pacific shows the principal island groups, including Howland Island, scene of the search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator. Most of these islands are mere dots in the ocean and have been accentuated by the artist to make them clear.
Washington Orders Aid.
The coast guard cutter Itasca, stationed at Howland Island, immediately prepared to search for the flyers northwest of the island. Late tonight a navy flying boat hopped off to join the Itasca.
Coast guard headquarters in Washington ordered its Honolulu division to lend all possible aid and to send the cutter Roger Taney from here to help tile Itasca search, and the of naval operations, Admiral Willianm D. Leahy, ordered the naval station here to assist. He gave the commandant here leave to send fast destroyers and planes across the 1,800 miles to Howland Island. The said fair weather was predicted for four days in the Howland area.
Miss Earhart, who was attempting an equatorial flight around tile world from Oakland, Cal., and her navigator left New Guinea at 7 o clock (Chicago time) last night. Atmospheric conditions hampered radio communications.
An hour before the last radio message Miss Earhart reported the flyers were searching for the island, which she believed was not more than 100 miles away.
Previous reports indicated fairly strong , which apparently increased gasoline consumption. Of11 cers of the Itasca estimated the plane muld not remain aloft after 6:30 p. m.
Carries Emergency Equipment.
When the plane left Miami, Fla., June 1, starting the world girdling flight, it carried a rubber lifeboat and life belts for use if the craft were forced down at sea. The tanks of the land plane were equipped to be emptied quickly, serving to keep it afloat.
Mow long the Lockheed Electra low wing monoplane with its two motors could stay above the waves with the two flyers was a matter of conjecture.
The weather at Howland Island was reported partly cloudy, with visibility twenty miles. The coral island, two miles long and only a few feet above sea level, presented a small target for tile plane flying the great expanse of Pacific ocean, dotted sparsely with other small atolls.
Husband and Wife Anxious.
At Oakland. Cal., Miss Earhart’s husband, Publisher George Palmer Putnam, was gravely concerned as he awaited word of tile fate of his wife. Putnam received messages from the coast guard while waiting at an airport.
Mrs. Noonan, a bride last March, predicted that the Itasca would find Miss Earhart and Noonan. The navigator attended public schools on Chicago.
This trip, Miss Earhart’s second at. tempt to fly 27,000 miles around the world just for fun, started in Oakland May 21. From there she flew across the continent to Miami. Thence sile hopped to Porto Rico, down the coast to Brazil, over the Atlantic to Africa, across Africa to India, Australia and then New Guinea.
Climax of Career.
Her route followed the equator as closely as possible. It was a reversal of her original attempt, which ended March 20 in Honolulu when the land. ing gear of her big twin-motored monoplane gave way on an intended takeoff for Howland Island.
Miss Earhart’s adventure was un- as a climax to a career which already has embraced two trans-Atlantic flights, one solo, and a solo flight from Honolulu to Oakland.
Her $80,000 “flying laboratory” was regarded as one of the most completely equipped planes in existence.
Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1937
HONOLULU, July 3.—(AP)—Chances for the rescue of lost Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, diminished today when storms turned a big naval flying boat away from. the search, leaving for the time being only the coast guard cutter Itasca to resume its discouraging quest in the South Pacific.
Meanwhile every available facility of the United States navy was ordered to begin a coordinated and far flung search. Vessels were rushing to the scene at full speed to aid the coast guard cutter Itasca, which was searching the waters around tiny Howland Island, near which the lost plane is believed to have landed.
At San Pedro, Cal., the aircraft carrier Lexington, which had been ordered to fuel to capacity for a long South seas cruise, was ordered into the search. The Lexington is to carry 54 planes, which were ordered made ready to leave at 8 a. m. Chicago time tomorrow. Navy officials did not estimate how long the Lexington would require to reach Howland Island, 4,400 miles from San Pedro.
Battleship Colorado Sails.
The battleship Colorado, carrying three catapult planes, sailed from Honolulu at 1 p. m. (6:30 p. m. Chicago daylight time), bound for Howland Island.
About 900 miles off Honolulu, half. way to Howland, the U. S. S. Swan, a mine sweeper, rushed toward Howland under orders to give any possible aid.
The aircraft carrier Pelican was pressed into service from the Hawaiian Islands.
A long distance naval flying boat sped out of Honolulu on an 1,800 mile flight to Howland Island, but turned back after fighting snow, sleet, and lightning storms for two hours during a gale.
July 6, 1937
May Send Another Plane.
After the Honolulu rescue plane had turned back, navy officials studied weather charts and planned to send another giant plane as quickly as possible.
Recurring reports of S 0 S calls from the helpless plane buoyed up the hopes of relatives and friends, but directors of the far flung search shook their heads at the prospect. Some even doubted that the reported signals actually came from Miss Earhart.
The Itasca, which temporarily had abandoned the hunt and returned to Howland Island to serve as a base for larger operations, immediately began searching the area about Howland Island where Miss Earhart apparently came down yesterday on an attempted 2,570 mile flight from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland.. The Itasca reported to headquarters in Washington, D. C., tonight that It had observed 3,000 square miles of water and was pressing the search with “all possible energy.”
Navy Plane in Danger.
Naval authorities considered the plight of their Honolulu. plane so precarious that they ordered two de- and two aircraft tenders to take up stations along its return route.
The destroyer Talbot left Pearl Harbor at 10:30 a. m. (4 p. m. Chicago daylight time), followed by the destroyer Dent and the aircraft tenders Tanager and Whippoorwill.
These craft will be stationed along the route of flight of the navy plane in the event it should be forced down.
Fight Sleet at High Altitude.
The unsuccessful searching plane reported encountering the snow and sleet at high altitude. Snow is un- known at Howland Island, only fifty miles from the equator.
Rescue workers said the sun there would be a great hazard to survival
d any one exposed to its merciless equatorial rays. Reports Indicated clear skies and a calm sea in the immediate vicinity of the hunt.
Searchers put little faith in numerous reports of amateur radio operators of supposed messages from the Earhart “flying laboratory’ and asserted there was no convincing proof that she and Noonan remained alive.
But the radio messages purporting to come from the lost twin-motored plane continued to flash despite official skepticism.
Searchers said they had reason to believe the last message from the plane came at 1:45 a. m. (7:15 a. m. Chicago daylight time). As a series of dashes.
But two amateur listeners insisted they had heard reports at 9:42 a. n., 9:55 a. in., and, 10 a. mi. (Chicago daylight time], indicating they were from the plane. The amateur operators are Carl Pierson and Walter McMenamy of Los Angeles. Pierson reported he recognized Miss Ear-hart s voice saying ” SOS, SOS, SOS.”
These are the call letters given Miss Earhart for her “just for fun” world flight.
Map showing the proposed route of Amelia Earhart on flight around the world, starting from the west coast. She will be accompanied part way by Harry Manning as navigator.
March 11, 1937
Last Messages Made Known.
Coast guardsmen in Honolulu failed to verify the reports that Miss Earhart had been heard from today, and after lack of word increased concern, they released the last three messages known definitly to have come from the woman flyer. All three were sent yesterday while she was in the air, her position unknown, and the fuel supply almost exhausted.
At 2:12 p. m. (Chicago daylight time) yesterday she had reported the necessity of landing soon in her $S0,000 “flying laboratory,” saying no land was in sight.
The cutter Itasca, on its fruitless search, belched black smoke in the hope of being seen by the flyers.
An alert eye was kept by all search- ers for an orange kite, which Miss Earhart and Noonan took along to fly as a distress signal.
One of the host of theories ad- vanced, that the flyers may have landed on Baker Island, a southern neighbor of Howlana, was blasted by information that four colonists there are equipped with a radio which could have quickly relayed the information.
Clouds and some wind were predicted in the weather report from Washington, D. C., for the vicinity of Howland Island.
Believes Plane Is on Land.
Paul Mantz Miss Earhart’s technical adviser, said in San Francisco that if reported S 0 S calls were received it probably meant the plane was on land. He said the plane’s main battery, or generator, and the emergency set for the radio probably were gut out of commission if the plane came down on the ocean.
He said the main battery was tinder the fuselage and the emer- gency one was inside. The emergency battery might have been protected from the water, Mantz said, but added that he doubted this. He said that if messages actually were received today it probably meant the plane was on land.
Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1937
Chicago Tribune, July 6, 1937
Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1937
Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1937
First Person to Fly Alone From Hawaii to North America
January 11, 1935