Business and Labor

Amelia Earhart Takes Off From East Boston Airport

The trans-Atlantic flight that made Amelia Earhart a celebrity worldwide in 1928 started off at East Boston Airport – now known to travelers as Logan International Airport.

Amelia Earhart. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart

She was born on July 24, 1897, in in Atchison, Kans. Her maternal grandfather was a well-to-do banker and judge, but her father was an alcoholic country lawyer. During her childhood the family moved frequently, and it took a while for Amelia to find herself. She tried junior college and worked as a nurse’s assistant in World War I, thought about entering Smith College, enrolled at Columbia, then quit to spend time with her parents in California.

In Long Beach, she took her first ride in an airplane. It lasted 10 minutes. That was enough for her. “I knew I had to fly,” she wrote. On May 15, 1923, Amelia Earhart became the 16th woman issued an international pilot’s license.

Amelia Earhart returns to Denison House after her famous flight. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart returns to Denison House after her famous flight. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

She tried more jobs, then drove cross-country with her mother to Boston. She tried college again, then became a teacher, then in 1925 she got a job as a social worker at Denison House in Boston. It was the second oldest settlement house in the nation.

Social work then offered a new career option for ambitious, motivated and educated women like Amelia Earhart. She taught English to Syrian, Chinese and some Italian children. They were as interesting as any people she had known, she later wrote.

Amelia Earhart demonstrates flying, 1927. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart demonstrates flying, 1927. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Aviatrix

She lived in Medford, Mass., but she rarely stayed home. Earhart somehow found time to fly and to promote flying. She  acted as a sales representative for Kinner Aircraft, wrote columns about aviation and laid plans for an organization for women fliers that would become the Ninety Nines.

The Friendship takes off from East Boston for Southampton, England. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

The Friendship takes off from East Boston for Southampton, England. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Then on June 17, 1928 she took off in a trimotor seaplane called the Friendship with Wilmer Stutz and Louis Gordon. They left from East Boston Airport to Newfoundland, landed in Wales 20 hours and 40 minutes later and then flew on to Southampton, England.

Amelia Earhart gets a heroine's welcome in Boston. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart gets a heroine’s welcome in Boston. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Instant Fame

No matter that all she did was to keep the flight log. As the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, she was a celebrity.

Amelia Earhart with Medford Mayor Edward Larkin. Photo courtesy Boston Public Lilbrary, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart with Medford Mayor Edward Larkin. Photo courtesy Boston Public Lilbrary, Leslie Jones Collection.

She and the other Friendship Flyers were feted in her hometown of Medford in July 1928. In the photo above, Medford Mayor Edward Larkin escorted her to the ceremony.

Amelia Earhart takes off from East Boston, again. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Earhart takes off from East Boston, again. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

She was soon back in the air. Above, photographer Leslie Jones snapped her first takeoff  after her famed trans-Atlantic flight.

Amelia Earhart went on to set more aviation records. She flew solo across the Atlantic, wrote a best-selling book and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Amelia Earhart. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Central Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937.

If you enjoyed this story, you may also want to read about Earhart’s wedding in Connecticut here. This story was updated in 2020.

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