Inside a hangar at Independence Aviation at Centennial Airport, a gleaming Cirrus SR22 – that’s $1 million worth of sexy, single-engine plane – awaits a pilot.
Amelia Earhart, in boots and leggings, claims the cockpit.
Yes, it’s her real name. The 9News reporter, who is studying to be a meteorologist, went by Amy as a girl until she felt confident enough to wear the handle bestowed by her parents in honor of their distant relative. She shares a “common ancestry” (she’s never pursued a genealogical search) with the famous aviatrix who vanished over the Pacific in 1937.
When she talks about the instrument panel or the plane’s BMW-designed interior, or even the emergency parachute, the 28-year-old Earhart sounds like she’s describing a lover.
“I never knew I could feel this way. When you hear the door click shut, nothing else matters.”
Recently, Earhart successfully retraced a portion of the original Amelia’s 1937 transcontinental flight, California to Florida. Re-creating the photo of the original Amelia over the Golden Gate Bridge was the highpoint. (She posted a lengthy video on her blog. “As we cruised over Treasure Island, interacting with the photo ship and cautiously making turns while hitting specific altitude marks and speeds, I couldn’t help but get chills knowing that I was flying in the same spot that Amelia flew 74 years ago,” she wrote.)
Her next trip will re-create the original Amelia’s flight to Scotland, and continue on to Paris, completing her 1932 attempt. The long-term goal is an around-the-world flight in the Cirrus, crossing the equator twice, making 65 stops. Ideally, she would take three months off work in 2015 to make the trip.
When she gets going, the native of Downey, Calif., sounds like a cross between a motivational speaker and a zealot. Her blog preaches positivity and goal-setting. She is disarmingly direct, unpretentious and, inevitably, down-to-earth. Earhart looks like a model, is unerringly upbeat and seems to have the energy to take flight unassisted.
“I wake up at 3 a.m. and work a split shift,” she says. She says she needs only six or seven hours of sleep. Her advice: “Just focus. Don’t multitask: It dulls you down.”
She has lived 29 places in her 28 years and has few possessions. The only constant is a ceramic unicorn her father gave her.
Earhart worked as a traffic reporter for 9News and KOA after getting a degree in English literature from the University of Colorado in 2005, then hovered over Los Angeles for two years covering traffic, before returning to 9News in 2010.
This weekend, she starts on-air weather duty, 6-9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on KUSA. “I’m nervous. I’ve been training with our crew for a while now.” Being a meteorologist will make her a better pilot, she says.
At cruising altitude she plays “a lot of cheesy songs about flying.” As she flew the Cirrus to Denver from Washington, D.C., somewhere over Kansas, Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” came on.
It was “epic.”
She tends toward inspirational material like “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” and “The Fountainhead” via podcast. She is fearless when it comes to flying, respectful but unafraid of the many variables involved. The family rule is that she must text her father every time she lands.
There is one thing, however, that she holds as a fear if not a phobia: Picture chicken feathers or fish scales. She can’t abide the thought of rubbing them backward. “I say I have a fear of a chicken backing into me … I never pet my dog backward.”
There’s a surprise: The woman who lives so boldly, who determined at a young age not to have an average life, fears going against the grain.
She wears a leather flight jacket modeled on the original Amelia’s, and a seriously complicated women’s aviation wristwatch. She has a gut feeling that the remains of the original Earhart’s plane will be discovered someday, some 17,000 feet under water off New Guinea. “It was a huge Lockheed Electra,” she says.
Meanwhile, she pays tribute to her hero. The name attracted the initial notice, but the dynamism is all her own.
General aviation “used to be a field of old, rich, white men,” she says.
Source: Denver Post