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Amelia Earhart: Pioneer in aviation, advocate for women's rights

Women's History Month: Amelia Earhart
Posted at 12:00 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 19:22:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Amelia Earhart is known for her daring adventures and advocacy for women's rights.

"She opened the doors for more firsts after that," said Sarah Ellerman Dickerson, a local pilot in the area.

Earhart's bravery during her solo flights was unstopped.

"She encouraged women that it was OK to color outside the lines, so to speak," said Jacque Pregont, treasurer of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation.

Her courage was undeniable. Many would argue Earhart is one of the most famous women in history. The pilot's story began in her hometown of Atchison, Kansas. The house she was born in still stands today.

"We have people come all the time because her birthplace is here. If you look at a brochure of our community, there are things that relate to Amelia Earhart in a lot of places in town," Pregont said.

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other flight records before she and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world.

An exact model of the plane she was flying when the pair disappeared now resides at the Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum in Atchison as a reminder her legacy lives on in the place she once called home.

The exact plane model Earhart disappeared in in 1937.

Those interested can schedule a tour to see the plane, but the exhibits have not been installed yet.

Organizers hope to open it the museum to the public sometime next year after they secure more funding.

"We have a great plan for a STEM museum with hands-on activities that will educate kids, that will get kids excited, we hope, about aviation, but also about following their dreams," Pregont said. "We are going to use Amelia's words and Amelia's life and a lot of activities to educate and inspire."

It was Earhart's determination that inspired generations of female pilots like Ellerman Dickerson.

"She's just that type of a pilot that always did adventurous things ... I think that's why she inspires so many women, is because of the adventure and the exploration that was involved in the type of flying that she did," Ellerman Dickerson said.

Earhart's family is honored to see her hard work is still making a difference.

"I think she let a lot of girls and young women see the possibilities of what they could do and what they could be," said Bram Kleppner, Earhart's great nephew. "It's a wonderful, wonderful legacy to be a part of."

"She was just very, very forward about what she wanted to do and what she thought she could do and what all women could do. Women can do anything, she believed it," Pregont said.

Pregont is the coordinator for the Amelia Earhart Festival that is held in the pilot's birthplace each year. Due to COVID-19, they will not have festival in 2021.