An Elephant Hoof Bracelet, a Lock of Hair: The Life of Amelia Earhart in Objects
Objects that belonged to Amelia Earhart (all photographs by the author)
Although she disappeared without a trace, there is a lot that Amelia Earhart left behind, not just in history for aviation, but relics of her life. Several of these are contained in the Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City.
The museum is run by the 99s, an organization of women pilots of which Earhart was the first president. I visited the museum recently, which is a modest space, but with plenty of fascinating history on women in aviation. (As a word of warning, the museum isn’t heavily trafficked and the volunteers can be a little overbearing, but it’s worth a visit for Amelia Earhart if nothing else.) Here are a few of these relics of Amelia:
One of Earhart’s lucky flying accessories was this elephant hoof bracelet inlaid with silver, as well as a scarf. Both of these were for reasons unknown left behind before her final 1937 flight. However, the scarf did go on an adventure of its own, as in 2009 astronaut Randy Bresnik, the grandson of her photographer, carried the scarf to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Her watch from her two transatlantic flights also made its own journey to the space station with astronaut Shannon Walker in 2010.
There was also this five dollar bill in the museum carried by Earhart aboard her airplane that she later signed, and it was wisely taken out of circulation as a memento.
I also was fascinated by this scrap of fabric from her Lockheed Vega which made her historic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. I wonder if it was reupholstered before taking its place in the Smithsonian or if there are little squares of fabric missing from the seats?
UPDATE: A helpful reader wrote in and explained that this fabric was from the fuselage of the plane, which was replaced every several years as it was exposed to the sun and weather.
Yet most interesting of all was this wisp of her auburn hair. The lock of hair is accompanied by a letter from 1964 from the Amelia Earhart Committee, which explains that the hair was collected by a maid at the White House during one of Earhart’s visits to meet with FDR.
Finally, not all of the relics are personal objects. Amelia Earhart had her own branded, “air travel test,” luggage. She also had a line of clothes, although the museum sadly had no examples of what I’m sure was practical yet casually chic.
RELICS OF AMELIA: MUSEUM OF WOMEN PILOTS, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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