Northern Ireland news

90th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's historic solo flight to be celebrated in Derry

Amelia Earhart

THE 90th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's historic solo flight across the Atlantic will next weekend be celebrated in Derry, where she unexpectedly landed.

As part of the festivities to mark the journey taken by the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a new 48-foot mural will be unveiled by Derry artist Joe Campbell telling the story of her landing in the city.

The North West Amateur Radio club will also honour Earhart, regarded as one of the most admired women in history, by transmitting from the field where she landed and connecting with the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in her hometown in Atchison, Kansas and joined by thousands of radio operators around the world.

Other anniversary events, which take place on May 20 and 21 throughout Derry, include a walking tour, which re-traces the footsteps of her unscheduled visit to the city and a speakeasy night held in her honour.

Students from across Northern Ireland will also compete in a challenge to build model planes to fly the longest distance in an event organised by Clare Doherty, the great-great granddaughter of Robert Gallagher who owned the farm where Earhart landed. The Amelia Earhart STEM Challenge will be hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering at Ulster University Magee. The winning team will take a helicopter ride over Derry and along the flight path of Earhart's landing on Gallagher's farm in Ballyarnett.

It was on May 21 1932 that she had set off in her red Lockheed Vega from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland, Canada, intending to fly to Paris. With weather and technical problems altering her course, she ended up in on the Gallagher's farm, where she was taken in and given food and a place to sleep.

Nicole McElhinney, co-founder of the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association - a Derry volunteer group that promotes the pioneering spirit of the aviation pioneer, said: "When Amelia landed here, no-one had ever seen a woman driving a car, let alone flying a plane or wearing trousers.

"Her fearless spirit was revolutionary, particularly for women, and continues to be an inspiration around the world."

Karen Seaberg from the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Kansas, which is due to open next year, added: "We are honoured to return to Derry for this extraordinary 90th anniversary celebration hosted by our transatlantic partners at the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association in Derry.

"We share a commitment to preserve Earhart's legacy to defy the odds and pursue her dreams that changed aviation forever."

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