On January 11, 1935 Amelia Earhardt became the first person to fly from Hawaii to California. Not the first woman (though she was that) but the first person. Three years earlier she had become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (it was 5 years after Lindbergh had become the first person to do so). She had also been the first woman to fly as part of a crew across the Atlantic. In 1937 – she and her navigator disappeared over the Pacific Ocean as they tried to become the first aviators to fly around the world.
Earhardt came to Hawaii twice. She was suppossed to come a third time on the 2nd to last leg of her trip around the world – but disappeared before making it back to the islands.
Her first visit was December 27, 1934-January 11, 1935 – this was when she set the record as first person to fly from Hawaii to North America. The flight took 18 hours – think about that next time you complain about the 5 hours it takes today to fly between Hawaii and the West Coast.
“Over the Christmas holiday (1934,) Amelia Earhart and George Putnam, along with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mantz, arrived in Honolulu on December 27, having sailed on the Matson liner SS Lurline. Amelia’s Lockheed Vega was secured on the ocean liner’s deck. The group spent two weeks vacationing in Hawaiʻi.” She visited Hilo on the Big Island and planted a banyan tree on the “Hilo Walk of Fame.”
Her second trip was March 17 through March 20, 1937 and was a part of her first attemptto fly around-the-world – which failed with a fiery crash on Wheeler Field. – where the Pacific Aviation Museum is now.. Her final attempt flew in the other direction and ended in her disappearance.
A commemorative plaque sits at the Diamond Head Lookout to commemorate her trans-pacific solo flight. Documents from that flight were placed in a copper box and inserted into the plaque’s base on March 6. It was dedicated on March 14, 1937.
Despite many theories, no one knows what really happened to Earhardt and Noonan. Did they crash in the Pacific and drown? Land on an atoll and live as castaways? Get captured by the Japanese? The truth is – we will probably never know for sure. But she was here…in Hawaii.