Today, July 23, has been designated as Amelia Earhart Day. One of the great aviatrixes, partly for her “firsts,” and partly because her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean remains a mystery. Just what did happen to her?
Amelia was one of several famous pilots who flew into Erie County and became part of the story of early flight here. In the late 1920s and 1930s Fairview was the center of sports flying – the mecca – thanks to the pilot Neil McCray. His story is a great one.
Briefly, he was born in Fairview, dropped out of school after his sophomore year, served in three wars (World War I and II, and Korea), owned and operated an airfield here in Fairview, taught flying lessons, sold planes, won many trophies for his expertise at flying, and late in life, while living in California returned to high school for the final two years to earn his high school diploma.
But back to Amelia. She had made quite a name for herself by 1932 and on November 30 she was flown from Cleveland to Erie by Hubert Hall. He landed her at each of the three airports operating at that time and her photo (above) was distributed at each location. From Port Erie (now the Erie International Airport) she was driven to Strong Vincent High School where she spoke to the students about the future of aviation. On the stage with her were the five local female pilots, all but one having earned their pilot’s license at McCray’s airport in Fairview.
The visit was arranged by the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and spearheaded by Fairview’s own Helen Stone Schluraff.
Amelia was born on July 24, 1897 and entered into aviation legend on July 2, 1937, just short of her 40th birthday. She was declared dead on January 5, 1939. It is likely that she will never be forgotten.