Book Review: Amelia Earhart: The Sky’s No Limit by Lori van Pelt (Four Stars)


Book Review: Amelia Earhart: The Sky’s No Limit by Lori van Pelt

(Four Stars)

“Please know I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” (From letter Amelia Earhart wrote and sealed before her world-circling trip.)

Well-written biography of an extraordinary person. Amelia Earhart was bigger than life; she had vision and ability far beyond many women and men of her day. Van Pelt compiles both how much Amelia accomplished but also her goals and ambitions along the way. Much coverage of her disappearance. Not without her warts—she may not have been the best flyer around, but she was among the gutsiest.

“I wanted to fly because I wanted to; not because advance publicity compelled me.” AE

Earhart and many of her contemporaries struggled with what she had to do—books, endorsements, tours—to accomplish what she did, but flying then was an incredibly expensive business. To fly her best, she needed the best equipment; often cutting edge, and not always completely ready. Many of her long-range flights depended on ad hoc extra fuel tanks which often threatened the very missions they made possible.

“My particular inner desire to fly the Atlantic alone was nothing new to me. I had flown Atlantics before. Everyone has his own Atlantics to fly. Whatever you want very much to do, against the opposition of tradition, neighborhood opinion, and so-called ‘common sense’—that is an Atlantic.” AE

George P. Putnam had a big role in creating the Amelia Earhart we remember, good and bad. He was almost her Svengali.He publicized flights she wanted secret; arranged interviews when she needed sleep before and after flights, sold indorsements she didn’t like (e. g., cigarettes when she didn’t smoke), started her fashion line, and generally ran her non-flying life.

“She has a clarity of mind, impersonal eye, coolness of temperament, balance of a scientist. Aside from that, I like her.” Anne Lindbergh

She was a competitor and role model for a generation of flyers, and of women in all walks of life. The following sentiment could also be applied to those contemplating manned mission to the moon and Mars, with the same concern.

“I feel sure that if she comes through safely she will feel what she has learned makes it worth while. But her friends will wish science could not have been served without so much risk to a fine person whom so many people love as a person and not as a pilot or adventurer.” Eleanor Roosevelt