By Darren Harkin
A new plaque has been unveiled in Derry in honour of Amelia Earhart, the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
The American pilot famously landed in Gallagher’s Field outside Derry after experiencing technical issues and weather problems during an attempted flight from Canada to Paris in 1932.
Speaking after her ordeal Earhart told reporters, “I was never in Ireland before but the sight of the thatched cottages and the marvellous green grass and trees left me no doubt that I had actually made the Emerald Isle.”
On that day Earhart had broken three world records, the first woman to cross the Atlantic, the first person to fly the Atlantic twice and the holder of the longest ocean flight at 15 hours.
The plaque is situated at the former Northern Counties Hotel in Waterloo Place as this was where Amelia Earhart gave her first press conference after landing in Derry.
The plaque was erected by the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association, the group behind the re-opening of the Amelia Earhart Airport Lounge in 2018.
This association was created to remember, celebrate and enhance the memory of Amelia Earhart’s historic landing within the city.
Upon landing in the field with no money or luggage on May 21, 1932, Amelia Earhart simply requested a phone to call her husband to tell him that she was safe. That same day President Hoover sent a reply from Washington.
“You have demonstrated not only your dauntless courage, but also the capacity of women to match the skill of men in performing the most difficult feats of high adventure.”
She was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress for her achievements.
The Irish newspapers at the time reported that when in London Amelia Earhart never forgot the hospitality she received from the people in Ireland.
She found time to explore the toy shops and sent over a model aeroplane for the little boy of the Gallagher residence.
In 1937 during an attempted voyage around the globe Amelia Earhart mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again.