8 Places Amelia Earhart Flew That Are Worth a Visit
With so much attention on her mysterious disappearance, it’s easy to overlook all the amazing places Amelia Earhart flew in her renowned—and tragically short—flying career. For the famed aviator’s birthday (she’d be 119 on July 24), we take a look at some of the cities and small towns where she touched down that are still worth a visit.
1. BURRY PORT, WALES
This sleepy Welsh town was the terminus of Earhart’s first transatlantic flight in 1928—the first transatlantic flight made by a female pilot. The landing, which happened in the waters just off the coast, wasn’t planned: The crew, including pilot Wilmer Stultz and mechanic Lou Gordon, ran into mechanical trouble with their modified float plane, and had to divert from their original destination of Southampton, England. The surprised townsfolk eagerly received their guests, and residents today still talk glowingly of their date with history. Visitors can enjoy the scenic Welsh coastline along the Millennium Coastal Path, which inevitably leads to the photo-ready Burry Port Lighthouse. Afterwards, tourists can retreat to the local pub for a pint or two.
2. MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
In April of 1935, Earhart flew from Los Angeles to the Mexican capital on a goodwill mission. The routine flight became dire after a bug flew into Earhart’s eye, forcing her to land in a dried-up lakebed in Nopala, 60 miles short of her goal. A band of cowboys helped her flush the bug and get reoriented, and Earhart made the quick hop to Mexico City, where a crowd of 10,000 awaited her. The city is similarly welcoming towards tourists these days, with a restaurant and arts scene that’s gaining international attention. There are also popular must-see spots like the Museo Frida Kahlo, Templo Mayor, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
3. FORD ISLAND, HONOLULU
The Hawaiian capital played a significant role in Earhart’s flying career, both good and bad. First, the good: It was the departure point for her historic 2400-mile flight to Oakland in 1935. Two years later, though, Earhart crashed while taking off from Ford Island, situated in the middle of Pearl Harbor. The crash, which came down to pilot error, grounded her attempt at circumnavigating of the globe—a feat she would attempt again three months later, in what would become her last journey. Visitors to Ford Island today will find the Pacific Aviation Museum, which houses dozens of military planes and choppers dating back to World War II.
4. CULMORE, NORTHERN IRELAND
The 34-year-old pilot touched down in a Culmore cow pasture after a 15-hour transatlantic flight. It was her second hop across the ocean, and first one flown solo. Earhart’s original destination was Paris, but mechanical problems, including a leaky fuel tank and a cracked manifold, forced her to land in Ireland. “Where are you coming from?” a farmer asked her as she stepped out of her plane. “America,” Earhart replied (she had, in fact, taken off from Newfoundland). A golf course occupies the land these days, with the 6th hole, nicknamed “Amelia’s Landing,” marking the exact spot where Earhart touched down. Visitors can play a round, then head into nearby Derry to visit the last walled city in Europe.
5. FORTALEZA, BRAZIL
Many of the stops Earhart made along her fateful 1937 journey to circumnavigate the globe were strictly utilitarian: get in, get fed, sleep, and make any necessary repairs. Not so in Fortaleza, a thriving city on Brazil’s northeastern coast, where Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were able to spend a day walking the beaches and bustling streets while Pan Am mechanics serviced their Lockheed Electra. Beaches like Praia do Futuro and Praia de Iracema are still Fortaleza’s calling card, and the nightlife is second to none. Those looking for a more cultured experience can tour the museums, galleries and theaters in the Dragão do Mar arts district.
6. SAINT-LOUIS, SENEGAL
Following a rough 14-hour flight from Brazil, Earhart and Noonan landed on this island city at the mouth of the Senegal River. It was, at the time, the capital of Senegal, and a picturesque example of a French colonial town, established in the 17th century. Today, Saint-Louis is no longer the country’s capital, but its unique blend of French and West African influences, from the colorful balconied homes that stretch down long city blocks, to the Grand Mosque constructed in 1847, show why UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 2000. Surrounded by quays and marshland, Saint-Louis’s laid-back atmosphere is under threat from rising waters, and experts worry it could soon become submerged.
7. KARACHI, PAKISTAN
After crossing the Arabian Sea, Earhart and Noonan set down in this coastal city, which at the time was part of India. While mechanics fueled and inspected their plane, the two flyers posed for pictures and toured around via the local transportation. “Camels should have shock absorbers,” Earhart wrote in her journal, unimpressed with the animal’s handling. Camel rides are still a popular attraction in Karachi, though tourism is down these days due to the city’s hectic sprawl and threats of terrorism. Those who do venture there will find a lively, diverse city that showcases everything worth loving about Pakistani culture, from the bustling markets to the pristine Mohatta Palace.
8. DARWIN, AUSTRALIA
Earhart made a quick refueling stop in this northern Australian city on June 28, 1937 before heading on to Papua New Guinea (she and Noonan disappeared over the South Pacific, near tiny Howland Island.) Visitors today will want to stay much longer. The capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, and one of the country’s few tropical cities, Darwin is a fun-loving outlier that’s renowned for its parks, beaches, and gorgeous sunsets. It’s also the jumping-off point for trips to scenic Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park. Of course, those who aren’t into roughing it can take part in the local past time and go fishing with an esky of beer.