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Big time aviatrix, small town connection

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy Don Hales Amelia Rose Earhart will take flight in less than a month, on June 23, intending to complete the around-the-world journey that her namesake never returned from. Earhart has a personal connection to Pagosa Springs, having spent time working here during the summers while visiting her father and step-mother, Glen Earhart and Claudia Smith, who have lived in the area for 15 years.

Photo courtesy Don Hales
Amelia Rose Earhart will take flight in less than a month, on June 23, intending to complete the around-the-world journey that her namesake never returned from. Earhart has a personal connection to Pagosa Springs, having spent time working here during the summers while visiting her father and step-mother, Glen Earhart and Claudia Smith, who have lived in the area for 15 years.

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity … You can do anything you decide to do.” — Amelia Mary Earhart.

Amelia Mary Earhart was known and admired around the world for her daring, dedication and drive as one of the world’s first solo female pilots. When she was 39 years old, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to fly around the world in1937.

Now, almost 80 years later, 31-year-old Amelia Rose Earhart, born in California and raised across California, Colorado and Kansas, will attempt to complete her namesake’s global flight. Though no genetic relation exists between the two pilots, Amelia Rose professes to share a close personal connection to Earhart in spirit and sense of adventure.

Illustration courtesy Amelia Rose Earhart This century’s Amelia Rose Earhart will take flight around the world on June 23, following the 1937 Earhart’s flight path almost exactly. Amelia Rose, along with co-pilot Shane Jordan, will have to divert their course farther south when crossing Africa, the Middle East and Asia for political reasons. The 2014 path can be traced by following the solid line; Earhart’s 1937 path is represented by the dotted line.

Illustration courtesy Amelia Rose Earhart This century’s Amelia Rose Earhart will take flight around the world on June 23, following the 1937 Earhart’s flight path almost exactly. Amelia Rose, along with co-pilot Shane Jordan, will have to divert their course farther south when crossing Africa, the Middle East and Asia for political reasons. The 2014 path can be traced by following the solid line; Earhart’s 1937 path is represented by the dotted line.

“In seventeen stops, and approximately 28,000 miles I will fly a Pilatus PC-12NG around the globe, completing the flight that Amelia never got to finish,” Amelia Rose states on her website, flywithamelia.org. “When the flight is complete, I will be the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single engine aircraft, honoring Amelia’s tenacity and love for aviation possibilities along the way.”

Small-town connection

Most recently a resident of Denver, Amelia Rose also has a personal connection to Pagosa Springs. Her father, Glen Earhart, and step-mother, Claudia Smith, have lived in the Pagosa area for the past 15 years.

During an interview with The SUN, Amelia Rose stated that she formerly worked at the Pagosa Springs golf course, mowing, planting flowers and helping with general maintenance during the summers between high school and college semesters. Amelia’s time on the Pagosa course helped her foster a passion for playing golf; a passion that has stuck with her for over a decade.

Amelia Rose has also experienced seeing Pagosa from the air, having flown into the area on occasion.

The first thing the pilot had to say about flying into the region was, “Pagosa Springs has an awesome runway — it’s very smooth.”

She did point out, however, that while Stevens Field is a joy to land on, the approach for landing is tricky, given the airport’s location among the towering San Juan Mountains. Though difficult, the aviatrix is more than qualified to make the difficult landing, having had years of training and experience in the air.

Now, Amelia has progressed beyond the challenges of flying in the Rocky Mountains and is ready to take on her next adventure of circumnavigating the globe.

Amelia Rose said that her father has been a huge supporter of her dream to complete Earhart’s 1937 journey. The pilot told SUN staff that Glen has helped her get through challenges and tough times during her preparation for the flight.

“I love having my dad so close,” Amelia said. “He is one of my best friends.”

Glen explained during a phone interview with The SUN that he tries to send encouraging and inspirational text messages to his daughter as often as he can; and he has been talking about and promoting the pending flight almost as much as his daughter has.

Amelia laughed, when discussing her father’s excitement about the pending flight, “It’s almost like having my own media team in Pagosa … who knew Southwest Colorado would play a role in a flight around the world.”

Air time

Most recently, you may have seen Amelia Rose on NBC’s channel 9 News out of Denver, where she logged countless hours in the air reporting on traffic, in addition to reporting on many other subjects for the station.

While reporting from the air gave Amelia even more experience doing what she loves, she was no stranger to flying before taking the position.

According to her website, Amelia Rose wanted to fly from an early age — inspired by the adventures of the woman she shares a name with. In 2004, while in college, Amelia finally saved up enough money to take flying lessons, eventually earning her pilot’s license in a Cessna 172.

In 2012, Amelia Rose traced her namesake’s route across the United States, completing a transcontinental flight from Oakland, Calif. to Miami, as completion of her instrument training hours.

Her time in the cockpit, both for work and independently, has not only increased Amelia’s proficiency as an aviatrix, but has given her much joy as well.

“The feeling I have when I get up there in the airplane is unlike anything else,” Amelia was quoted as having said in a USA Today interview in 2013.

In order to extend the opportunity for other girls to soar, literally and figuratively, Amelia started the Fly With Amelia Foundation in 2013. The foundation is a nonprofit that provides flight scholarships to girls ages 16-18, helps fund flight-based education and other aviation opportunities, and works in partnership with the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

Decades ago, Amelia Mary Earhart said, “My ambition is to have this wonderful gift produce practical results for the future of commercial flying and for the women who may want to fly tomorrow’s planes.”

The Fly With Amelia Foundation is just another way Amelia Rose demonstrates the strong spirit of the 1930s Earhart, helping Earhart’s ambition live through to today.

A lifelong dream

“Decide … whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.” — Amelia Mary Earhart.

Amelia Rose is in the final stages of fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams: completing the flight around the world that the 1937 Earhart never returned from. In less than a month, on June 23, the pilot will take off on one of the biggest adventures of her life.

“I’m very proud of her and excited for her,” Amelia’s father Glen told The SUN. “I’m also a little nervous for her. The last Amelia Earhart didn’t make it … so there is that feeling.”

Glen went on to say that many of his worries are eased when thinking about his daughter’s choice of aircraft.

“She took my adventurous side to a more sophisticated level,” Glen laughed.

According to Amelia’s website, the Pilatus PC-12 NG plane, which she will be flying 24,301 nautical miles, “features precision Swiss engineering and construction and offers a unique combination of reliability, speed, range and performance … Four large displays provide an unprecedented amount of viewing area and integrate flight information, engine monitoring, aircraft configuration, pressurization, and environmental controls.”

The description goes on to state, “The PC-12 NG has the best safety record of all single engine turboprops, and it even exceeds that of the twin engine turboprop fleet.”

Amelia’s father said the plane is built for extended flights, with expanded fuel reserves, and has other technological capabilities that put his mind at ease. The plane also has a GPS — a distinct advantage over the star navigation system used by the late Earhart.

Also, the fact that his daughter will not be completely alone on her journey helps relieve some of Glen’s concerns. Co-pilot Shane Jordan will be in the cockpit to help share the burden of the immense distance the team will be covering.

“She’ll do ninety percent of the flying, though,” Glen informed.

In her interview with The SUN, Amelia Rose stated that she and Jordan have gone through extensive training to prepare for any malfunctions or challenges they might encounter on the trip.

The two are thoroughly skilled in repairing their plane, have made emergency preparations for a variety of potential situations and have even gone through open water survival training.

“Eighty percent of the flight will be over water,” Amelia explained.

When asked if she was nervous about her pending flight, Amelia said, “I have reasonably logical fears … my fears are channels of excitement, you could say.”

The aviatrix and her co-pilot Jordan will be retracing Earhart’s 1937 route almost exactly; however, the two will have to fly farther south across Africa, the Middle East and Asia for political reasons.

Louise Foundray, caretaker and historian at the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchinson, Kan., spoke with USA Today about Amelia Rose’s pending fight.

Foundry explained that Amelia’s 2014 flight around the world is “going to be more difficult than in 1937, simply because some of the countries won’t let us use their air space.”

Amelia does not seem worried though, assuring that she and Jordan have adequately planed for all manners of situations that might arise.

Staying connected

Though Amelia Rose will be the youngest woman to complete the 1937 flight around the world, she will not be the first woman to retrace Earhart’s route. Two other woman, Anne Pellegreno and Gabby Kennard, completed global flights along Earhart’s path in 1967 and 1989, respectively.

Something new that Amelia Rose’s 2014 flight will introduce, however, is the ability for the public to track and connect with the pilot live during her journey.

GoPro, one the adventurer’s sponsors, will be an instrumental partner in connecting Amelia with the world as she flies. At each stop, Amelia told The SUN that she and Jordan will take selfies that will be broadcast on GoPro’s website and on her own social media sites.

Earhart and her co-pilot will also be awarding scholarships through Amelia’s foundation live on the trip, giving girls from all over the opportunity to earn their pilot’s license.

The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, aside from partnering with the Fly With Amelia Foundation, has also been a major factor in getting ready to bring the world along on Amelia’s adventure. The museum recently added a permanent installation (built by the aviatrix and her father) dedicated to covering the pilot’s pending flight, with maps, live tracking and other elements for students and the public alike.

Aside from the personal connections she will be making with people across the planet, Amelia Rose is personally looking forward to seeing the sun rise around the world. Departures from each of her 17 stops are scheduled for dawn, meaning she will get to see the daybreak from 17 different vantage points across the globe.

Perhaps the biggest thing for Amelia Rose, though, will be completing the flight itself. Following in her namesake’s footsteps, the journey will be one of aviatrix’s grandest adventures to date.

The late Amelia Mary Earhart said, “Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.”

Inspiring others to go beyond their comfort zones, to do things they previously thought impossible, is something both Amelia’s aspire(d) to do.

On her website, Amelia Rose writes that, by completing this flight around the globe, she hopes she will “encourage the world to pursue their own adventures.

“Amelia [circa 1937] believed that ‘adventure is worthwhile in itself’ and it is that type of attitude that spurs us to seek the unknown, push our limits and fly outside the lines.”

To learn more about Amelia Rose’s flight, mission and foundation, or to follow her live, check out the following sites: www.flywithamelia.org; twitter.com/Amelia_Earhart; facebook.com/ameliaroseearhart; instagram.com/ameliaroseearhart.

shanti.johnson@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on June 5, 2014.