Amelia Earhart earned her pilot’s license in 1921. That same year she purchased her first plane, a Kinner Airster with a single 60 HP engine. In 1932, she was the first woman to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic from west to east. The Lockheed Vega 5B that Earhart flew to achieve this is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. In 1932, she was also the first woman to fly solo from Los Angeles to Newark. In 1935, she was the first person in the world to fly solo from Hawaii to the United States mainland. Earhart was also the first to fly from Mexico City to Newark in 1935.
After receiving the United States Distinguished Flying Cross, Earhart set her sights on flying around the world. She departed from Miami, Florida with her navigator, Fred Noonan, on June 1, 1937. They arrived in New Guinea in their twin-engine Lockheed Electra 22,000 miles later. From there they left for their next destination, Howland Island, but never arrived. No sign was found of them, despite a massive search initiated by President Roosevelt. Finally, on July 18, 1937 Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were declared lost at sea.