This Day in Earhart History: Frank Hawks Takes Amelia Earhart for a Ride in the Sky

By 1919 Earhart prepared to enter Smith College but changed her mind and enrolled at Columbia University signing up for a course in medical studies among other programs.

She quit a year later to be with her parents who had reunited in California.

In Long Beach, on December 28, 1920, she and her father visited an airfield where Frank Hawks (who later gained fame as an air racer) gave her a ride that would forever change Earhart's life. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground," she said, "I knew I had to fly." After that 10-minute flight (that cost her father $10), she immediately became determined to learn to fly. Working at a variety of jobs, as a photographer, truck driver and stenographer at the local telephone company, she managed to save $1,000 for flying lessons.

A year later she thought it was time to go out to California to visit her parents. While there her father had introduced her to pilot Frank Hawks. Amelia remembered all the stories that her friend Mr. Anderson had told her about the Royal Flying Corps back in Ontario. She remembered being thrilled about all of his stories so she was very excited to meet this pilot.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Hawks. I’m so honored to meet you!"

"Please, call me Frank. Your father tells me that you are interested in flying. Would you like to take a ride with me?"

"Oh, that would be wonderful! Thank you so much!"

It was this flight that changed Amelia Earhart’s life. She never went back to college. She knew just what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to fly!

On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave her a ride that would forever change her life. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground," she said, "I knew I had to fly."

Although Earhart's convictions were strong, challenging prejudicial and financial obstacles awaited her. But the former tomboy was no stranger to disapproval or doubt. Defying conventional feminine behavior, the young Earhart climbed trees, "belly-slammed" her sled to start it downhill and hunted rats with a .22 rifle. She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields, including film direction and production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.

Leaving the service in 1919, Hawks was promoted to a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) Reserve. During the immediate postwar years, he did a stint of aerial barnstorming in the United States and Mexico. Besides his barnstorming feats, Hawks became known for his appearances at aerial exhibitions and on December 28, 1920 he took a 23-year-old Amelia Earhart on her first flight at a state fair in Los Angeles, California. Earhart's father arranged for the flight and paid the fee of $10 for a 10-minute "hop".

Original Article Courtesy of the World History Project

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