Forty years after Amelia Earhart and her twin-engine Lockheed Electra disappeared in the South Pacific, her great-niece and namesake, Amelia Earhart II, is training to get her wings. “I can’t think of anything else I love more than flying,” says the 25-year-old Earhart, “and I know she was the same way.”
Not only has her great-aunt been an inspiration but Earhart feels they have a spiritual bond. “On my first landing I couldn’t help but think, ‘This was how she felt.’ I know how she felt when she first took the controls,” Earhart insists. She hopes to turn this special “knowledge” about her aunt into a book. Earhart remembers that even her first flying instructor thought she had had previous lessons because she seemed to handle the plane intuitively.
Earhart has a degree in architecture and enjoys cartooning, glass-blowing and pottery-making, but an invitation to speak to Civil Air Patrol cadets awakened her fascination with flying. For the past two years she has devoted all her free time—40 hours a week—as a Civilian Air Patrol volunteer. Now, with the impressive title of Deputy Commander, Earhart not only goes on spotting missions for missing planes, but also trains cadets in search-and-rescue techniques.
“Everything I do is to pay for flying,” she says. She works as a clerk for Western Electronics and hopes to save enough to buy her own plane. Once she has logged the necessary hours to qualify for a flight instructor’s license, Earhart plans to teach flying full-time.
With CAP Commander Barbara Ferguson as her navigator, Earhart plans in 1987 to retrace her great-aunt’s aborted round-the-world flight of 50 years before and perhaps find more information about her strange disappearance.
Now totally committed to flying, Earhart expects to remain single. She shares living expenses with roommate Miriam Cristofalo, 35, a nurse who is also a CAP volunteer. They have a rented house in Sun Valley, Calif. near the Earhart family home. Amelia works near the Glendale field where her great-aunt first got hooked on flying in 1920. “It’s in my blood, too,” she says.