This post is made from statements I found the book Aviatrix by pioneer pilot Elinor Smith. Of course, some of it is truly one sided. Recently, I have discovered these same or similar words as stated here.
Amelia was a wonderful woman, a beacon for women pilots. She encouraged women to become all that they could be. But she wasn’t the greatest pilot in the world. Her fame has continued and if she hadn’t disappeared she wouldn’t be as famous as is today.
Also her fame as being the first women to fly over the entire Atlantic Ocean. perfect promotion.
Amelia’s first claim to fame was not exactly true because of Georges manipulation. She according to George was the first women to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Only part of that statement is true. She did fly across the ocean but only as a passenger. She did not fly the plane. When she arrived in France. She was greeted like a movie star. The public overlooked the fact that she didn’t fly the plane. Amelia didn’t know what to think. She tried to set the enormous crowd that she was just a passenger and just sat there “like a bag of potatoes.”She didn’t want the adoration, but George sure did. He felt he had a winner with Amelia.
I am not writing to criticize Amelia or Elinor. I admire both women and I want to tell the truth about them. George talked Elinor Smith into dropping out Powder Puff Derbys the most important race because it was the first all women air race. George offered Elinor $75 per week to fly Amelia around the country for her speaking engagements and promotional tours. When photographers would take pictures Elinor was to stand to the side as if Amelia was flying the plane. When Amelia got out of the plane she was dressed in a clean dress and looked immaculate so she really wasn’t dressed to fly. George kept Amelia in the spotlight by deception.Elinor turned down Georges offer. It was so disgusting. Amelia didn’t know about this offer or any other way George tried to keep Elinor out of the spotlight. Amelia told Elinor that he would do anything he needed to make sure that she that Amelia remained the top woman pilot.
George promoted Amelia as Lady Lindy. Amelia was tall and slim like Lindbergh and he thought that he could promote her as the female counterpart to Lindy.
Amelia’s first claim to fame was not exactly true because of Georges manipulation. She according to George was the first women to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Only part of that statement is true. She did fly across the ocean but only as a passenger. She did not fly the plane. When she arrived in France. She was greeted like a movie star. The public overlooked the fact that she didn’t fly the plane. Amelia didn’t know what to think. She tried to set the enormous crowd that she was just a passenger and just sat there “like a bag of potatoes.” She didn’t want the adoration. But George sure did. He felt he had a winner with Amelia.
Elinor didn’t want to be Amelia. She hoped that George would promote her like Amelia. That never happened. He wanted to use Elinors ability as a pilot to help Amelia get more speaking engagements.
He thought Amelia should never smile for the camera because she had a space between her teeth. Everything was done for publicity. George wanted Elinor to endorse a line of casual dresses for women to wear when they flew. Elinor turned her down because she was wore practical clothes when she flew. Elinor didn’t want to wear clothes that she would only get grease and dirt on. Elinor usually wore her brother’s knickers, his old shirt, a windbreaker, argyle socks, and worn out sneakers.
Elinor felt that because she flew over the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic that she should wear clothes she could quickly get out of if she needed to in case she had crashed into the water. Practical clothes would be easier to swim home.
Amelia wanted the money for endorsements so that she could buy more powerful planes and enter more races. Truthfully, it was George who insisted that Amelia do many endorsements and Amelia felt she had to follow along. That’s why I call George Amelias Puppeteer.
Also, Elinor would not endorse products that she didn’t use or believe in. She needed the money but she just couldn’t commit to being involved in things that weren’t right for her.
Elinor had $15,000 worth of endorsements of her own. Not as many as Amelia but after her flight under the bridges she was in many newsreels and even had her pictures on buses.
Elinor thought Amelia was warm and friendly and not shy and retiring like George portrayed her. He also wouldn’t let the press Amelia know that she was 30 yrs old. He felt that the younger she was the public would think that she was more unique. He didn’t respect Elinor because she was too young to be taken seriously.
One time Amelia and Elinor went up in a very powerful plane. Elinor asked Amelia if she’d like to take over the controls. Amelia couldn’t handle it and let Elinor take control again. Amelia was very embarrassed and it seemed to Elinor that Amelia was not the experienced pilot that George said.
Elinor realized that Amelia had not flown and landed on her own. It turned out that another pilot who George said was her mechanic was really landed the plane for Amelia. When
Amelia left the plane she looked like a picture, perfectly dressed and had no dirt or grease stains anywhere. She looked immaculate. This proved that George was perpetrating a hoax on the reporters and public. It also proved to Elinor that George was a liar. Amelia went along with this deception because George told her what to do and she followed along.
Elinor really liked Amelia and encouraged her to take a refresher pilots course in order to increase her skills. Elinor was pleased that she did this in private at her parents Rye, N.Y. estate.
George spread rumors that I was very difficult to work with and that aviation manufactures shouldn’t hire me to promote their planes. He did everything to stop me from finding a way to earn money for my flights.
In 1929 Amelia and other women pilots started a group to support each other in aviation. Elinor never joined because she felt that women at that time shouldn’t fly and compete against men in the big time races. Elinor thought that women should fly the smaller and not as heavy planes.
Amelia had a difficult time earning her transport license. This was the highest rating that you could receive. Elinor earned hers at age 17. George said that Amelia was so competent that she didn’t even need to take the written or physical test.
Elinor wanted to buy a powerful plane by a well-known manufacturer named Bellanca. She needed this plane to compete in a race. Mr. Bellanca promised her the plane to Elinor. Unfortunately, George talked Bellanca to let Amelia buy the plane. This would ultimately cause Elinor to drop out of the race. George didn’t allow anyone to question if Amelia was really the pilot in some races and appearances. In actually, it was somewhat known that someone else, possibly her mechanic was the pilot not Amelia. Some reporters noticed on several occasions that she was supposed to be the pilot she left the plane perfectly dressed. No oil or dirt on her clothes. Even her hair was perfect. It was not her that made the “perfect landing because she wasn’t really flying or landing the plane.
If George was asked about Amelias ability he just said that Amelia was too important to answer that question. He felt that he didn’t have to convince anyone.
Elinor believed Amelia that she didn’t know anything about Georges attitude toward her. Elinor told Amelia that she was pushed out of races and events because he only wanted Amelia to be the top pilot. Elinor told Amelia that George spread rumors that she was too difficult to work with and that manufacturers should stay away from her and only work with Amelia. Amelia said that George never told her anything about his push to keep Elinor out of the money races.
Few know that Amelia did poorly in the Cleveland Air Races. She only finished 3rd. She was flying the fastest ship but she really didn’t know how to control it. She didn’t have enough skills to properly fly this large plane. She only received her solo license 5 months before the race and didn’t have the expertise to properly pilot the plane. This would have surprised the general public if they knew the truth about Amelia’s abilities. To the public she was their Lady Lindy and they wouldn’t believe their hero was anything but the best woman pilot. Truthfully, it was George who created this illusion.
George blamed the manufacturer not Amelia’s ability. He wasn’t going to let the press criticize Amelia. She was his creation and nothing was going to interfere with his work.
ake speeches but she needed to do that to make money. She didn’t want to appear in oil stained clothes and she didn’t want to make speeches. George wanted her to write about her adventures.
Amelia surprised Elinor when she told her that she was going to marry George. Amelia said that it wouldn’t be a real marriage but George would help her raise money so she could do what she loved to do. Amelia d didn’t like writing books or speaking at functions but that would give her money to fly in the big races and have more powerful planes felt
Elinor couldn’t stand George but she liked Amelia and wished her well in her marriage. Elinor felt that George never understood that Amelia wasn’t a great pilot with too little experience and knowledge to perform the flights he promoted for her, Elinor believed that Amelia needed more practice and was glad when she did take time to get more experience with flights near her home in Rye N.Y.
On Amelia’s last flight she made a serious mistake by taking Georges advice. Amelia didn’t take a powerful enough radio on that flight, George told her that she couldn’t wait for the proper radio to be shipped to her. He had scheduled speaking engagements that couldn’t be changed. If she had that radio maybe she wouldn’t have gotten lost.
This part of the story that the general public doesn’t know about Amelia Earhart. I still believe that Amelia should be honored as an important part of the advancement of women in aviation and other fields. I just believe that other women should be honored too.
This post may open the eyes of people that Amelia was a good pilot and did advance women in many fields but she shouldn’t be regarded as the icon she is.
I hope that you will read Elinor’s book entitled “Aviatrix” and get a different picture of Amelia Earhart.
George offered Elinor the moon but gave her nothing. Actually, he got in her way. He worked to stop her from getting the publicity like Amelia.
Elinor hoped that George would do the same for her that he did for Amelia.
d that Amelia was in many different pictures but Elinor couldn’t be in those pictures. She also, couldn’t do any public speaking for 2 years.
George said that Amelia wasn’t physically sturdy for the Powder-puff Race. He was critical of her bad performance in the race. He was angry with Amelia but to the press he criticized the plane not her ability. George tried to stop Elinor from flying in the big prize money races. He said that he would do anything to protect Amelia’s interests.
Amelia didn’t think that she needed the help from the ship Itasca. She didn’t believe that she would need help finding Howland Island.Amelia delayed her last flight because of bad weather. Really, the Navy reported that the weather was fine. The real reason was Amelia was exhausted.
On March 20 Amelia took off from Honolulu and her plane swung out of control. Amelia postponed the flight.