Her unique character and love of flight keeping Amelia Earhart’s story relevant today. Using excerpts from her diary, IAF site presents the connection between the famous pilot and IAF’s values
March 17, 1937: Pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off for the longest flight ever, circumnavigating earth. On July 2nd, after six weeks between earth and sky, the connection with the “Electra” plane on which they were flying, was lost. No traces of the two were found to this day.
Before disappearing in the middle of her biggest operation, Earhart was the first woman to fly solo over the US and set a transcontinental speed record, flying 2,447 miles in 19 hours. She was also the first woman to cross the Pacific Ocean in a solo flight without stopping. The stories tell that she was a decisive, intelligence and brave woman and the circumstances of her disappearance certainly reinforce these claims.
Between one flight to the other, Earhart wrote about her experiences in a travel diary which was published and sold thousands of copies. Her written words encompass many values preserved in the world of aviation and in the IAF to this day.
Following The Dream
May 1932, Earhart left for a transatlantic solo in her red “Lockheed Vega”. During the flight, she ran into a severe thunderstorm, causing malfunctions and gas leak forcing her to make an emergency landing. “My inner will to fly solo over the Ocean was not a new thing for me. I flew over many oceans before”, wrote Earhart in her diary. “” Everyone has a private Atlantic to cross. If you have a dream and you follow it despite of all opposes and ‘common sense’ – this is your Atlantic”.
Earhart’s explanation reveals devotion and striving for excellence and self-realization which are core values of the IAF. “Devotion to duty is the most important value for a combatant”, says Lt. Col. Tomer, Commander of the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron. “This value is reflected through all the soldiers of the squadron: the technicians who labor so that every jet is ready on time for operation and the aircrew members who have to have through understanding of what they are doing, believe in it and execute the missions in the best possible way. We have only one shot to execute a mission and we must not fail”.
Friendship Above All
In 1929, Earhart competed in the “Powder Puff Derby” tournament and gave up the first place to help her friend Ruth Nichols, who crashed on the runway during an emergency landing. “Instead of continuing with the race, she landed, made sure I’m fine and only then kept on going”, said Nichols after the race. “She was leading and would have won if she did not lose that time”.
IAF’s pilot cadets must also adopt the important value of friendship in the early stages of the course. “Pilots are usually portrayed as soloists, but it is not true. You can’t finish the course by yourself. They study together, test each other and help one another both physically and mentally”, determines Lieutenant Roy, weapon systems operator who graduated the last pilot course.
“A pilot does not fly alone. You might be alone in the cockpit but always with a partner in the plane or in the formation. In pilot school we always put an emphasis on the values of friendship and mutual helping”, adds Major Ran, Commander of the basic phase in IAF’s Flight School, the stage that turns the cadets from soldiers into fighting officers.
Exactly Like Men
Shortly before leaving for her final flight, Earhart was asked about her motive for the mission. “Women must try do things exactly the same as men do them and if they fail, their failures are nothing but challenges for other women”, she replied.
Earhart clearly proved that women can fit in positions perceived as “Manly” in the eyes of society and paved the way for many women in the future. The IAF also espouse integrating women in all positions. “When it comes to personal and cognitive data, gender should not pose a problem”, states Major Racheli Weinberg, Head of Aircrew Recruitment Dept.