Amelia Earhart: shy, charismatic, determined to change the world...

Amelia Earhart: shy, charismatic, determined to change the world...

Date: 21/05/2020 16:33

On 21st May 2020 it will be 88 years since Amelia Earhart’s dramatic arrival in Northern Ireland on her bid to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Forced to make an unscheduled stop due to difficulties caused by strong north winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems, Earhart landed in what is now known as Gallagher’s Field outside Derry much to the surprise of the farmer, Mr R. Gallagher and his farmhand Dan McCallion, who was the first person to greet Ms Earhart on her arrival.

Luckily, the excitement surrounding Amelia Earhart’s arrival was caught on film by Mr Grenville Mackie, who travelled down from Belfast to see the woman who had just flown solo across the Atlantic. Northern Ireland Screen received permission from his son, the late Dennis Mackie, in 2000 to include this rare footage of the event on the Digital Film Archive, which you can watch here. The film beautifully captures the excitement surrounding this landmark moment in aviation history and shows Amelia Earhart quietly enjoying the stir caused by her landing as she happily signs autographs, stands for photographs and chats with the locals who have travelled to see her. According to Mrs Gallagher, the wife of the farmer whose field she landed in, Amelia talked quite casually about her tremendous achievement, as though it had been no more than a long chilly drive in a car.

On her return to America, Earhart was presented with a gold medal from the National Geographical Society by President Hoover and the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress, the first ever given to a woman.

Five years later, on 2nd July 1937, Amelia Earhart and her plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific, somewhere between Lae, New Guinea and Howland Island, during her bid to be the first woman to fly around the world. No wreckage or any trace of Earhart, or her navigator Fred Noonan, were ever found and the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan has become one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th Century.