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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Today in History: Lindbergh and Earhart Took Flight

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

On this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Long Island, N.Y. in his custom-built Spirit of St. Louis. The plane was so fuel-heavy that it barely cleared the telephone wires at the end of the runway—and the close calls didn't end there. Lindbergh became sleepy after only a few hours and decided to fly within 10 feet of the water to keep his mind sharp. The fight to stay awake persisted. He later held his eyelids open, and in a fog, hallucinated that ghosts were passing through the cockpit. Some 3610 miles and 33 hours after departure, Lindbergh landed in Paris and became the first person in history to make a solo transatlantic flight. He’d been awake for 55 hours.

Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart flew out of Newfoundland in her red Lockheed Vega to become the first woman (and second person) to pilot a solo flight across the Atlantic. She was already a well-known figure for being the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an aircraft as part of a team in 1928. After that arduous flight, she spoke to The New York Times:

"Tired and hungry, but cheerful," she commented, lounging in her wooly coat and breeches and stout leather boots. "And we got here all right. There wasn't any race with Miss Boll, but, of course, I'm glad to be the first woman across."

On her solo journey four years later, weather and technical troubles forced Earhart to land in Ireland instead of Paris, about 2447 miles and 14 hours into the journey. It was plenty far enough to make her way into the history books.

How did the historic aviators pack for their respective flights? Lindbergh brought five sandwiches and said, "If I get to Paris, I won’t need any more, and if I don’t get to Paris, I won’t need any more either." Amelia Earhart brought chicken soup in a thermos and a can of tomato juice, which she opened with an ice pick.

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This Just In
Flights Grounded After World War II Bomb Discovered Near London City Airport
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

London City Airport grounded all flights on the night of February 11, after a World War II bomb was found in the neighboring River Thames, The Guardian reports.

The half-ton bomb was revealed Sunday morning by development work taking place at the King George V Dock. Following its discovery, police set up a 702-foot exclusion zone around the area, closing local roads and shutting down the London City Airport until further notice. According to the BBC, 261 trips were scheduled to fly in and out of London City Airport on Monday. Some flights are being rerouted to nearby airports, while others have been canceled altogether.

The airport will reopen as soon as the explosive device has been safely removed. For that to happen, the Met police must first wait for the river's tide to recede. Then, once the bomb is exposed, they can dislodge it from the riverbed and tow it to a controlled explosion site.

The docks of London’s East End were some of the most heavily bombed points in the city during World War II. Germany’s Blitz lasted 76 nights, and as the latest unexpected discovery shows, bombs that never detonated are still being cleaned up from parks and rivers more than 75 years later.

[h/t The Guardian]

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History
Why Amelia Earhart Is Remembered as One of History's Most Famous Female Pilots
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Amelia Earhart was a legend even before she mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while flying around the world. But the aviator's fame wasn't entirely based on skill alone. As Vox explains, Earhart's reputation eclipsed that of several contemporaries who were equally—if not more—talented than “Lady Lindy." So why did Earhart's name go down in history books instead of theirs?

In addition to her talent and courage, Earhart’s international fame could be chalked up to ceaseless self-promotion and a strategic marriage. It all started in 1928, when socialite Amy Phipps Guest and publishing juggernaut George Putnam handpicked the then-amateur pilot to become the first woman to be flown in a plane across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart wasn't involved with the actual flight process, but the trip still established her as the new female face of aviation (and introduced her to Putnam, her future husband).

After completing the transatlantic journey, Earhart’s profile rose sky-high as she gave public lectures, wrote an aviation column for Cosmopolitan magazine, performed stunts like flying solo across the Atlantic (a feat that was first achieved by Charles Lindbergh in 1927), and endorsed everything from cigarettes to designer luggage. Her celebrity was ultimately cemented with her marriage to Putnam, who orchestrated savvy promotional opportunities to keep his wife’s name in the paper.

Learn more about Earhart’s rise to fame by watching Vox’s video below.

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