On This Day in 1932, Amelia Earhart Began Her Solo Atlantic Flight

Getty Images / Staff
Getty Images / Staff / Getty Images / Staff

On May 20, 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland, beginning the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic by a woman. Not only was it the first such trip by a woman, it was only the second successful solo Atlantic flight by a human—Charles Lindbergh was the first. She landed the next day (about 15 hours later) in Northern Ireland, near Derry. She made her journey precisely five years to the day after Lindbergh's flight.

Of course, Earhart had already made this flight as part of a small crew, back in 1928. Back then, she flew with pilot Wilmer Stultz and mechanic Louis Gordon from Newfoundland to South Wales, taking 20 hours and 40 minutes on the trip. That first flight made her famous—she was the first woman to undertake such a venture by air—and from 1928 through 1932 she took part in all sorts of aviation races and events.

Earhart's 1932 flight cemented her reputation as "Queen of the Air." She flew a Lockheed Vega 5B, which is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. She earned a pile of awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S., and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society (presented by then-President Herbert Hoover).

Here's a British Pathé newsreel from 1932, showing a bit of the reaction when she landed. Enjoy:

And here's a short interview from British Movietone:

Finally, here's an incredible ticker-tape parade upon her return to New York City: