Dear Amelia Earhart…

Fall 1985

Dear Ms. Earhart,

Today, I decided to be a pilot. I realize that you have retired to where all great aviators go, but I’m writing to you anyway, since you are the only female pilot I’ve ever heard of. (Besides, no one I know has ever flown an airplane.) I went to my guidance counselor at school for career planning and when I told her I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school, she gave me a series of written tests created by some ladies named Briggs and Myer. Wow, Mrs. Briggs and Ms. Myer sure wanted to get to know me better. The test took hours and the questions were endless. (Kind of like talking to my parents.) Anyway, I must have answered okay since when the counselor graded the exams, she said I was lucky to be born in such progressive times, since there is a movement sweeping the country claiming girls can do anything, and based on my test results, I had the aptitude to become an airline pilot. I’m not really sure what she meant. The part about this movement that thinks I can learn to fly an airplane. Maybe it has something to do with the ERA button my mom carries in her purse. Who knows, maybe this ERA club could introduce me to some lady pilots? For now, though, I guess I’ll rely on my school counselor for help. She thinks joining the military might be an option if I decide to be a pilot. I told her I needed to go home and talk to my dad. (I’m half Irish, first generation, which means dad is old school and very strict. Truth is, I’m kind of nervous to even ask. A lot of my cousins lived at home until they got married. Yikes!) Luckily, the chat went better than I expected; my mom whispered that my dad had always secretly dreamed of being a pilot. So when I explained my counselor’s game plan, he agreed to let me send a letter to Congressman Henry J. Hyde, requesting consideration for a nomination to the Army’s West Point and the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I know about as much about military life as I do about flying airplanes—which, when added up, fits into my envelope-sized crossbody bag. Where did you learn to fly? What courses did you take in school in order to prepare? I have a lot of questions and no one really seems to know the answers. I wish you were around to talk to since you’ve already walked through all this beginners stuff. But that’s okay. Writing to you will definitely help. Oh, wait, sorry for being so forward. What I meant to say was—is it okay if I write to you? Something in my gut is telling me this is what I was meant to do. Did I mention how excited I am to even get a chance to fly airplanes? Well, I am.

When I close my eyes, I picture you at an airport with long runways, and clear blue skies with more planes than you have time to fly. Thanks for listening. (Or technically, reading.)

Very truly yours,

A future aviator

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