Amelia Earhart namesake plans to fly in her footsteps

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By Scott Stump

For as long as she can remember, Amelia Rose Earhart has been asked about her connection to her famous namesake. Rather than shy away from it, Amelia Rose has embraced the same spirit of aviation adventure as Amelia Earhart, who in 1937 attempted to fly around the world.

The modern Earhart, a weather and traffic co-anchor from NBC Denver affiliate KUSA, has decided to honor her distant relative by embarking on her own around-the-world flight next summer. Earhart, 30, will start in Oakland and make a two-week, 100-hour flight around the globe with co-pilot Patrick Carter that will mimic the famous 1937 flight by Earhart during which she vanished over the South Pacific.

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“I’ve been having this conversation my entire life,’’ Amelia Rose said on TODAY Friday. “It always comes up. When I think about the best way to honor being a namesake of Amelia, it’s all about adventure. There’s not a lot of things that we’re entitled to in life, but what I believe is we are entitled to developing our own adventure, whatever that is, whether it’s just leaving the house or if it’s flying all the way around the world. So this is my version of adventure and my best way to keep Amelia’s spirit alive.”

Along with Carter, an adventurer from Fayetteville, Ark., Amelia Rose will start in Oakland, then fly to Miami, Brazil, Africa, India and Australia before passing over the South Pacific and Howland Island, where the famous Earhart and co-pilot Fred Noonan disappeared, before returning to Oakland. The modern pilots will have GPS rather than the moon and stars as a navigation aid, and they will be flying in a $4.6 million PC-12 NG aircraft from sponsor Business Aircraft of Broomfield, Colo. The flight will take a minimum of two weeks and include stops.

The farthest Amelia Rose has flown to date was a journey from Oakland to Miami that re-created her namesake’s last transcontinental flight. The modern Earhart began taking flight lessons in 2004 simply because of the constant questions about her connection to her namesake, who in 1932 became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic.

“Every single day of my life, the conversation comes up: ‘Are you a pilot?’’’ she said. “I got so sick of telling people no and seeing these disappointed looks on people’s faces. I thought, as soon as I can afford it, I’m going to try it out. In college, I saved up enough money to take my first flight lesson, and I haven’t stopped since. It’s been great.”

Amelia Rose traces her common ancestry to the famed aviation pioneer back to the 1700s, but she was not specifically named in honor of her.

“(My parents) didn’t really name me Amelia Earhart because of our relation to her – it’s very distant,’’ she said. “But the point is, they wanted to give me an inspirational namesake, a good role model. I had no idea that I would ever actually fly.”