July 2, 1937: Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, disappears with her navigator Fred Noonan whilst attempting the first equatorial round-the-world flight. Earhart, who grew up in Kansas, first realised she wanted a career in aviation after a 10-minute flight with air racer Frank Hawks. She began working several jobs to pay for flying lessons and purchased a bright yellow biplane which she nicknamed ‘The Canary’. In 1922, she set a world record for female pilots by reaching an altitude of 14,000 feet and in 1923 she was issued with her pilot’s license.
The press dubbed her the ‘Queen of the Air’ and she published books, gave lectures promoting aviation, and helped design a line of women’s clothing. Her new celebrity status helped finance her flying and in 1928 she flew solo across the North American continent. In 1932, she completed her celebrated 14 hour solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 14 hours and 56 minutes.
Earhart is widely considered a feminist icon. She actively promoted women’s involvement in aviation, picketed races that banned women, and in 1930 she became president of The Ninety-Nines, an organisation of female pilots providing moral support to one another. She played a crucial role in convincing the American public that “aviation was no longer just for daredevils and supermen.”
Also on July 2:
- This day is the midpoint of a common year because there are 182 days before and 182 days after it in common years, and 183 before and 182 after in leap years. The exact time of the middle of the year is at noon.
- 1964 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.
- 2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world non-stop in a balloon.
Born on July 2:
- 1904 – René Lacoste, French tennis player and businessman, created the polo shirt.
- 1925 – Patrice Lumumba, Congolese politician, 1st Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- 1956 – Jerry Hall, American model and actress.
- 1986 – Lindsay Lohan, American actress and singer.