Amelia Earhart Honored at Library Event

Aviator’s History given to Raise Awareness about Library Resources

Patricia Lynn, a local pilot, strapped on an aviator’s hat and goggles, tied a red scarf around her neck and wore a brown jacket Wednesday, in honor of the woman she was dressed to portray — celebrated aviator Amelia Earhart.

Lynn participated in Altrusa International of the Central Coast’s Amelia Earhart Day to educate children, garner patrons for the Orcutt Public Library and commemorate the 116th anniversary of Earhart’s birth on July 24, 1897.

The chairwoman of the Santa Maria chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for women aviators, Lynn shared a brief history of Earhart’s accomplishments to a sparse group of children and parents at the library.

Earhart was the first woman to fly unescorted across the Atlantic Ocean, and attempted to make a 29,000-mile flight around the world in what was her final journey of record on July 1, 1937.

Lynn read a letter from Earhart to her husband about her reasons for attempting the dangerous trip.  “I want to do it because I want to do it,” Lynn recited. “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

Lynn said as a girl she can remember watching, through a chain-link fence, as planes took off at the Santa Monica Airport. Aviation had been a family tradition. Her uncle, Willard Graves, graduated in the first class of a Hancock College flight school; but attracting women to aviation has been a challenge, Lynn said.  “When somebody thinks of a pilot what do you think of,” she asked rhetorically.  “We don’t want to be a dying generation,” she said.

Melinda Aguirre, a former president of the Central Coast Altrusa organization, said promoting achievement for women is a message that closely aligns with the original mission of Altrusa International.  She said the organization was founded in 1917 to serve women, and it did not include male members until the 1980s. Aguirre said she was researching potential events to raise awareness about library resources, when she came across a calendar showing Earhart’s birthday.  “It sort of all tied in,” she said.

7/25/13   Lauren Foreman/