Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amelia Earhart is leaving on a jet plane . . .or la plus ca change

Yes a jet. The Eastern shuttle, shuttling down to New York City. The world has changed but not enough for Amelia. Apparently women are still relegated to service duties, plumping pillows, fetching drinks. Evidently I have a fond memory of what the service was like back when, when flying was glamorous. Or glamorous enough. Does it tick her off, most definitely. Will she want to do something about women still being second-class citizens? I would think yes.

I wonder how much things have changed, there are movements that give you reason to hope. Millions of Egyptians massing to topple a dictator and others in the Arab world trying to do the same, finally saying enough is enough. These an antidote to the sadly un-ironic rantings of Glenn Beck and his ilk, or the inability to enact reasonable gun control in this country, or the wider and wider divide here between rich and poor.
I think Amelia would find her new life curious. In 1980 women were liberated, but surely not the equals of their male counterparts. That still holds true, just look at income inequality. La plus ca change . . .still some things have changed and that would make her hopeful. I look forward to exploring this with her, just as I explored it once myself, growing up and knowing that rules were there to be broken and that I was someone who needed to break them.


  1. Amelia boards that jet and notes that it's business as usual with respect to gender representation in the cockpit. Does she know about Emily Warner and Bonnie Tiburzi, those two brave, lonely islands of woman-pilothood in the sea of male airline pilots? They were the first since Helen Richey -- Emily began flying for Frontier Airlines in 1973 and Bonnie for American Airlines, also in 1973. If I could peek into Amelia's skull, I bet I would find her thoughts zipping back to 1935, when her good friend Helen Richey became the first woman pilot to be hired by an airline...and how wretchedly Helen was treated by Central Airlines...and how Amelia herself went straight to the press to take up the cudgels for her friend after Helen was phased out of her job...and how she thereby set off something of a national controversy about the appropriateness of women flying airliners.
    Are you familiar with the story?

  2. I actually did some research on this, but as usual you know much more than I, I'd like to hear more if you don't mind.

  3. If you like I could email you the text of a talk I gave the 99s about Helen Richey. It's too long to post on the blog.