Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart is one of America’s great mysteries. But it is no secret she had ties to Central New York.
“She was an absolute visionary” says Robert Searing, Curator of History at the Onondaga Historical Association. “She was a trailblazer, and actually, her grandfather was born in Homer.”
The aviation pioneer’s connections to our area are well-documented, as are the three trips she made here.
“The first time she came was actually right on the heels of her historic trip across the Atlantic” Searing says. He says the visit was just two months after that trip, and Earhart was a special guest of Governor Al Smith at the New York State Fair. At the fair she met, and became fast friends with, Syracuse’s “Flying Mayor” Charles Hanna. Mayor Hanna, who started flying during World War One, was instrumental in the creation of Syracuse’s municipal airport at Amboy. This, in turn, had made Syracuse an important aviation hub in these first decades of flight.
Earhart visited again in 1931 and was photographed flying high above the City of Syracuse. See the photo by watching the above video.
“She came back in 1936 as a guest of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt” Searing adds. “The Democratic State Convention was being held in Syracuse and she came here to basically voice support for the Democratic cause. She herself was a good friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. The first lady had actually signed up to take flying lessons with Amelia, but President Roosevelt said no dice on that one and vetoed that.”
The following year, Earhart made her attempt to circumnavigate the globe and was never heard from again.
Learn more about Central New York’s history by visiting the Onondaga Historical Association at 321 Montgomery Street in Syracuse. They also operate the Regional Aviation History Museum at Syracuse Hancock International Airport.