101-Year-Old Woman Who Flew With Amelia Earhart Takes to the Skies Again

by Lauren Boisvert

Amelia Earhart once visited Bridgeport, Connecticut, and changed a teen girl’s life. Now, that teenager is 101 years old and took to the skies again to recreate the feeling of being in the air with Amelia Earhart on November 5, 1936.

At a Glance

  • Amelia Earhart was the biggest celebrity of the 1930s as the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean, and she was also a talented public speaker
  • Earhart visited Warren Harding High School in 1936, where Anne Fiyalka was a sophomore
  • Fiyalka was chosen as one of three female students to fly in a plane with Amelia Earhart
  • Now, 86 years later on June 24, Fiyalka embarked on another flight over the same land she saw with Earhart

Anne Fiyalka was 15 years old when she met trailblazing female pilot Amelia Earhart. At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, CT, Earhart spoke about her adventures in the air. At the time, she was planning her round-the-world trip that would eventually lead to her death over the Pacific Ocean just a year later.

On November 5, 1936, though, Anne Fiyalka was one of three girls chosen to take a plane ride with Earhart from the local airport. Fiyalka had never flown in a plane before then. This experience was the catalyst for a life-long fascination with flight for Fiyalka.

The three girls climbed into a Lockheed Electra alongside Amelia Earhart. The Electra Model-10 was a twin-engine, all-metal plane designed as a direct competitor to the Douglas DC-2 and the Boeing 247. This was Earhart’s plane of choice, and the one she flew on her fated 1937 flight. It had a maximum speed of 210 mph at 5,000 feet, and in 1930, Earhart broke the speed record with the Lockheed by getting it up to 184 mph.

Of that flight in 1936, Fiyalka said, “It was so loud in the plane that you couldn’t talk. I’ll never forget taxiing in the plane and then seeing the wheels leave the ground.”

Woman Who Flew With Amelia Earhart as a Teenager Relives Experience at 101 Years Old

Since that day in the air with the famed pilot, Anne Fiyalka has dreamed of flying again. Through AARP’s Wish of a Lifetime, she got to experience that joy again. Wish of a Lifetime is a program that celebrates centenarians, aiming to change how the public views aging and the older generations.

Along with recreating the legendary flight for Fiyalka, she also got a guided tour through the New England Air Museum in East Granby, CT. On the day of the flight, June 24, Anne Fiyalka arrived at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, CT. She boarded a turboprop plane, similar to the Lockheed Electra Model-10, and took to the skies. During the flight, she got to see the same land she flew over as a teenager with Amelia Earhart.

“I can’t express how much I enjoyed our recent flight,” said Fiyalka. “Because we were flying at only 3,000 feet, the pilot was able to point out special places of interest in Easton which included the schools, a reservoir, and the nearby coastline. It was fascinating to see the land from the plane again.”