Why Amelia Earhart And Eleanor Roosevelt Once Snuck Out Of The White House

As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once said, "well-behaved women seldom make history" (via PBS). Both Amelia Earhart and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt were testimonies to that notion in their own way. Earhart, a passenger, was the first female to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane in 1928, and later made the trip flying solo. Sadly, she'd never return home from a 1937 aerial voyage and her remains have yet to be found, as Britannica recalls. Eleanor Roosevelt, on the other hand, was the longest-serving first lady on record, following her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt through his unprecedented four terms in the presidential office between 1933 and 1945. She also became a spokesperson for the United Nations years later (per The White House). 

The two women were actually good friends. According to A Mighty Girl, Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt first met in 1932, just before FDR took office. Throughout her time as first lady, the latter admittedly had a deep and abiding appreciation for aviation and air travel alongside her husband, so it stands to reason that she would take a vested interest in the most famous female pilot in the world at the time. 

Amelia Earhart was a distinguished pilot

In June of 1928, Earhart hopped into a plane and traveled from Newfoundland, Canada to Burry Port, Wales alongside Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon. Her solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1932 took just under 15 hours, marking a new record in the process. (Charles Lindbergh was the first man to do so in 1928, according to Britannica.) Her international celebrity compounded itself in years to come as multiple trips across the ocean would follow in the first one's wake.

In 1937, she took to the skies once again with the goal of making a trip around the world alongside her navigator and copilot Fred Noonan. Tragically, the two would never return home, and nearly a century of speculation about what could have gone wrong or where the vessel may have crashed has accompanied her legacy. "The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward," Earhart once said (via her official website).

Eleanor Roosevelt's legacy

Aside from her close friendship with Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt built a reputation as a momentous political and philanthropic figure throughout her life. When World War I struck in the latter part of the 1910s, Eleanor had already married Franklin, who was part of the New York Senate. Her involvement in social movements and charitable endeavors had already earned her a reputation among her political peers, and by means of continuing that work, she visited wounded soldiers on behalf of the American Red Cross and the Navy–Marine Corps Relief Society to show support and commend their sacrifice (per Britannica). 

Throughout the 1920s, as her husband presided over the state of New York as governor, Eleanor Roosevelt worked with the Women's Trade Union League and the League of Women Voters. She also purchased (with two friends) and taught at an all girls' school in Manhattan during that time as well. Several other merits would define her legacy, and between 1946 and 1951, she chaired the Commission on Human Rights — a faction of the United Nations — via the appointment of President Harry S. Truman, as Britannica reports. 

Earhart and Roosevelt took to the skies together

Have you ever found yourself in an incorrigibly boring situation? Well, when you're the first lady of the United States and a revered pilot that the entire world literally looks up to, your means of escaping one can be pretty luxurious. There's a famous story about how Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt, at Earhart's invitation, ditched a dinner party at The White House in 1933 and stepped out to get some air — some air high above the surface of the Earth, that is. According to Pioneers of Flight, the two women led a small group of attendees out to a nearby airfield and boarded a plane. 

Instead of sticking around for coffee and dessert, the troupe of elite adventurers hopped into the Eastern Air Transport Curtiss Condor for a quick round-trip voyage to Baltimore and back. Earhart did most of the flying, but Roosevelt was by her side — Eleanor had her student pilot's license. Upon returning, they were shuttled back to the party in time to schmooze with their fellow white tie comrades for a bit. "It does mark an epoch, doesn't it, when a girl in an evening dress and slippers can pilot a plane at night," Eleanor Roosevelt remarked after the fact (per The Baltimore Sun).