Amelia Earhart inspired thousands of young women who watched as the aviation pioneer literally soared to new heights to achieve her dreams against the odds.
In 1933, one young fan penned a letter to Earhart seeking advice about breaking into the male-dominated flight scene – and Earhart’s advice still resonates today.
Earhart took to her typewriter that August to respond to the 13-year-old Detroit girl, and the contents of that previously unpublished letter have been revealed for the first time.
“It is very hard for me to advise you about taking up aviation as a vocation inasmuch as I do not know you,” she writes in a letter to be put up for sale by The Raab Collection. “However, if you are really determined to fly, and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary, I should certainly not discourage you from the attempt.”
She also acknowledges that “as far as woman’s opportunities in flying go, I think they will improve as they have in all industries,” but when she wrote the letter, “just now there are no pilots on the regular scheduled air time. Some day I expect there will be.”
Nathan Raab, a principal at the Phildelphia-based Raab Collection, told CBS that the letter was recently acquired from a private collector.
“It really speaks to the inspirational role that Amelia Earhart played in reaching out to girls and young women at the time when people were looking to advance their careers,” Raab told the news outlet. “But also to be inspired by somebody who had succeeded in a man’s world.”
Earhart also gave the young girl advice on how to break into the industry.
“There are many positions in aviation open to women, not only in the clerical field but in the factories. There are air hostesses and a number of specialized jobs,” she wrote. “Perhaps one of the best ways of getting in is to perfect yourself in secretarial work and obtain a position on the “fringes,” relying on your ability and desire in order to succeed.
According to The Amelia Earhart Museum, the pioneer originally took up aviation as a hobby, taking odd jobs to pay for her flying lessons.
She bought her first airplane in 1922, and in 1935 she became the first person to fly from Hawaii to the American mainland.
In June of 1937, Earhart famously vanished after she was on her first around-the-world flight.