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President Franklin D. Roosevelt Congratulates Aviation Pioneer Amelia Earhart on Hawaii-to-California Flight
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From the days of these pioneers to the present era, women have marched step in step with men. And now, when air trails between our shores and those of our neighbors are being chartered, you, as a woman, have preserved and carried forward this precious tradition.

This fascinating letter captures the nation’s enthusiasm for Amelia Earhart’s achievements in aviation. In this congratulatory message, President Franklin D. Roosevelt places her in a tradition of pioneering women who ignored gender expectations and accomplished great achievements in many fields including aviation.

Earhart’s flight from Honolulu to Oakland was the first of three solo long-distance records she set in 1935. In April, again flying the Lockheed Vega 5C, she flew solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City. In May, she flew from Mexico City to New York, where large crowds greeted her in Newark, New Jersey. Later that year, she participated in the Bendix Trophy race from Burbank, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. She was the first woman to enter the Bendix and took fifth place, blazing a trail for other female aviators, who won the Bendix in 1936 and 1938.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT. Typed Letter Signed, to Amelia Earhart, January 18, 1935, Washington, DC. On White House letterhead with matching envelope. 1 p., 7 x 9 in.

Inventory #27330       Price: $125,000

Complete Transcript

The White House
Washington                                                     January 18, 1935

My dear Miss Earhart:

I am pleased to send you this message of congratulations. You have scored again.

By successfully spanning the ocean stretches between Hawaii and California, following your triumphant trans-Atlantic flight of 1928, you have shown even the “doubting Thomases” that aviation is a science which cannot be limited to men only.

Because of swift advances in this science of flight, made possible by Government and private enterprise, scheduled ocean transportation by air is a distinct and definite future prospect.

The trail-blazers who opened to civilization the vast stretches of this Continent of ours, who moved our boundary from the Atlantic to the Pacific, were inspired and helped by women of courage and skill. From the days of these pioneers to the present era, women have marched step in step with men. And now, when air trails between our shores and those of our neighbors are being chartered, you, as a woman, have preserved and carried forward this precious tradition.

Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Miss Amelia Earhart,
Oakland, California.

Historical Background

On January 11, 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first aviator to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to the continental United States, landing in Oakland, California. Flying a Lockheed Vega 5C she called “old Bessie, the fire horse,” she flew for 18 hours and 17 minutes with no complications. In the final hours, she even relaxed and listened to a broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from New York. A crowd of five thousand people greeted her at the airport when she arrived in Oakland.

An Army Air Corps aircraft had completed the first flight between California and Hawaii in June 1927, but it was not a solo flight. In August 1927, James D. Dole, the Hawaii pineapple baron, offered a prize of $25,000 for the first aircraft that could fly from Oakland to Honolulu, a distance of 2,405 miles. The Dole Air Race or Dole Derby had eighteen official and unofficial entrants. Of the fifteen who drew for starting positions, two were disqualified, two withdrew, and three aircraft crashed before the race, which resulted in three deaths. Of the eight aircraft that started the race, only two arrived in Hawaii after 26- and 28-hour flights, respectively. Two more crashed on takeoff, two had to return for repairs, and two went missing during the race. One of the repaired aircraft went to search for the missing aircraft several days later and itself went missing. In all, ten people died and six aircraft were lost or irreparably damaged before, during, and after the Dole Air Race.

Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) was born in Kansas and developed a passion for adventure at a young age. She gained flying experience in the 1920s and in 1928 became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airplane. Four years later, she became the first female pilot to make a nonstop solo transatlantic flight, for which she received the United States Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1931, she married publisher George P. Putnam after he had proposed to her several times. In 1935, Earhart became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University. She was a member of the National Woman’s Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. During an attempt to fly around the world in 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

Condition: Minor offsetting, creased along old folds, a touch of bleed present in the signature.

Provenance: From the estate of record-breaking aviator, and Earhart author Elgen M. Long and his wife, fellow Earhart scholar Marie K. Long.

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