Part Two: Friendly Rivalry Between Amelia Earhart and Elinor Smith
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 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 Amelia’s 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 George’s 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.
Amelia and the Navy? The Navy Air Races in 19 in Anacostia, Maryland were a very important event in aviation. Amelia was the aviation announcer for this race. Add to power point p.244-248
Amelia did not like to make 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. Palmer wanted her to write about her adventures. She wrote several books that were well received. She just loved to fly the rest was annoying.
This the story of Amelia as I see it. As I said I admire both women. I just think that Elinor should have been more admired. George Palmer came in between Elinor becoming the icon that Amelia became. Everyone knows Amelia but few people know of Elinor. I hope that many people will read Elinor’s book “Aviatrix” and learn more about this fabulous women.
The book is available at most libraries and Amazon. Find out the real truth about these women. Hope you enjoyed my post about these amazing women.