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Airs Monday, February 22, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. But on July ...

Credit: Seaver Center for Western History Research

Above: Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. But on July 2, 1937, "The First Lady of the Air" became a legend when she mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific.

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and the first to cross the North American continent alone. Her exploits as an aviator, her beauty and intelligence, her independence and charm made her a national heroine. Seemingly invincible, Earhart tirelessly traveled and lectured, a champion of aviation and equal opportunity for women. But her cheering public didn't know the cost of her courage.

Timeline: 1897-1937

Explore a timeline of Amelia Earhart's life.

The record-breaking flights, the aerial exhibitions and races, the interviews to support her favorite causes, the endless speeches and promotional commitments, together with household responsibilities, health problems, and financial worries, combined to push Earhart to the point of exhaustion. In 1937, she set out to accomplish yet another first: to circle the earth along the equator on an east-west flight. Friends warned that her preparations were hurried, even careless. When her plane disappeared without a trace, the "First Lady of the Air" was instantly transformed into an American legend.

Watch chapters from the film and view the "Significant Women in Flight of the 20th Century" photo gallery.

Trailer: American Experience: Amelia Earhart

The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart was one of America's first celebrities. After only a few years as a pilot she became the best-known female flier in America, not only for her daring and determination, but also for her striking looks and outspoken personality. Three weeks short of her 40th birthday, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, and her story became legend.

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