13 May 2022
Known fondly by locals as ‘Stroke City’, Londonderry/Derry, is honouring its own adopted ‘Derry Girl’ – Amelia Earhart who landed there 90 years ago at the end of her solo flight across the Atlantic.
Leaders of the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Earhart’s home town of Atchison, Kansas will be special guests of the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association in Derry, Northern Ireland, for the celebration of Amelia’s historic landing.
“We are honoured to return to Derry for this extraordinary 90th anniversary celebration hosted by our transatlantic partners at the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association in Derry,” said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum.
“We share a commitment to preserve Earhart’s legacy to defy the odds and pursue her dreams that changed aviation forever.”
On 20 May 1932, Amelia departed in her red Lockheed Vega from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland, Canada, intending to fly to Paris. With weather and technical problems altering her course, she landed on 21 May in Robert Gallagher’s farm at Ballyarnett, Derry.
“When Amelia landed here, no one had ever seen a woman driving a car, let alone flying an airplane or wearing trousers,” said Nicole McElhinney, co-founder of the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association.
“Her fearless spirit was revolutionary, particularly for women, and continues to be an inspiration around the world.”
The new state-of-the-art STEM and history museum, opening in 2023, will immerse visitors in Earhart’s pioneering life. Interactive exhibits will feature an opportunity to pilot a virtual reality recreation of Earhart’s 1932 transatlantic flight.
As part of the 90th festivities in Derry, students from across Northern Ireland will compete in The Amelia Earhart STEM Challenge hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the Great Hall at Ulster University Magee in Derry on 20 May.
Student teams will build model aeroplanes with judging criteria to include the longest flying distance. Seaberg will among the judges.
The Challenge is being organised by Clare Doherty, great-great granddaughter of Robert Gallagher, the farmer. The Gallagher family opened their home to Amelia, providing food and a place to sleep. Doherty is Head of Technology for St. Mary’s College and the Royal Academy of Engineering Connecting STEM Teachers Coordinator.
The winning team will take a helicopter ride over Derry along the flight path of Earhart’s landing on Gallagher’s farm, along with a trophy from the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association.