1928: Amelia Earhart Embarks on a Pioneering Transatlantic Flight as a Passenger

June 17, 1928

Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was among those departing on a plane from Trepassey Harbor at Newfoundland for what would be a pioneering flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Wilmer Stultz was the pilot of that plane, a Fokker F.VIIb/3m aircraft known as the Friendship, and Lou Gordon was on board as the co-pilot as well as mechanic. While essentially along for the ride as a passenger only, Earhart was assigned the task of keeping the flight log. The plane landed in the town of Burry Point in Wales 20 hours and 40 minutes after leaving Newfoundland. As a result of this flight, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

The genesis of this first-of-a-kind airborne journey could be traced to Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo trip across the Atlantic the previous year. The wealthy Amy Phipps Guest, the wife of a former British air minister, was the person who originally expressed interest in being the first woman to travel by plane across the Atlantic. After deciding that such a flight might be too dangerous for her, Guest offered to sponsor that trip for “another girl with the right image.” Earhart was ultimately given the opportunity to be that person. (The above photo of Earhart was taken shortly before the start of the flight.)

Thousands of people were on hand to give Earhart, Stultz, and Gordon a rousing welcome after their plane landed in Wales. Upon returning to the United States, the three of them were treated to a ticker-tape parade in New York City and a reception at the White House with President Calvin Coolidge.

Earhart, who would subsequently be dubbed by the United Press as “Queen of the Air,” did not overstate her role on that history-making flight and made it clear that she never even handled the airplane’s controls at any point. She said in one interview, “Stultz did all the flying — had to. I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes.” She added, however, that perhaps someday she would make that flight alone — an accomplishment that did take place four years later.

Not long after her history-making flight with Stultz and Gordon, Earhart wrote about that trip in her book 20 Hs. 40 Min.: Our Flight in the Friendship. This book, which was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, has been reprinted several times over the years.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Additional information on Amelia Earhart’s 1928 transatlantic flight is available at https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/427564/ and https://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/earhart/aa_earhart_atlantic_1.html

For more information on Earhart’s book 20 Hs. 40 Min.: Our Flight in the Friendship, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Hrs.,_40_Min.

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