Amelia Earhart's soaring spirit





There's something about Amelia Earhart.

More than seven decades after she disappeared without a trace in the South Pacific on her flight around the world, Earhart remains the most famous female aviator in history, a timeless heroine and inspiration to generations of women, filmmakers and fashionistas.

Flying was just the beginning. Earhart was also a fashion icon and designer with her close-cropped hair, pants and leather jackets. She was a leader in women's rights and the peace movement. She was a president and founding member of the Ninety-Nines -- the original women's pilot organization. She was a pioneering businesswoman -- a partner in both Transcontinental Air Transport and Ludington Airlines and a luggage designer -- a wife (she was married to publisher George Putnam) and a writer.

"I'm looking at my bulletin board here at a letter, and it's addressed to 'Amelia Earhart Smithsonian Institute,' " Cochrane noted recently with a laugh. "We are constantly getting schoolchildren writing. . . . This year, there was a flurry of activity. There is this thing called National History Day, and all of these kids decided to select Amelia Earhart. If you are going to select aviation and if you are looking for women, she's the first one to come to mind."

Cochrane expects Earhart's legacy to soar even higher with the release of the family comedy "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," featuring Amy Adams as Earhart, filtered through a Katharine Hepburn-Howard Hawks screwball comedy sensibility. ...



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