“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 of Derry’s Amelia Earhart Legacy Association
Leaders of the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Earhart’s Atchison, Kansas, hometown will be special guests of the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association in Derry, Northern Ireland, for their 90th anniversary celebration of Earhart’s historic landing in Derry, where Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean — and one of the most admired women in history.
“We are honored to return to Derry for this extraordinary 90th anniversary celebration hosted by our transatlantic partners at the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association in Derry. We share a commitment to preserve Earhart’s legacy to defy the odds and pursue her dreams that changed aviation forever,” said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison, Kan. — where Earhart’s dream of flight began. The new state-of-the-art STEM and history museum, opening in 2023, will immerse visitors in Earhart’s pioneering life. Highly interactive exhibits will feature an opportunity to pilot a virtual reality recreation of Earhart’s 1932 transatlantic flight with challenges mirroring obstacles Earhart overcame to land in Derry.
On May 20, 1932, Earhart set off in her red Lockheed Vega from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland, Canada, intending to fly to Paris. With weather and technical problems altering her course, Earhart landed on May 21, 1932, in Robert Gallagher’s farm in Ballyarnett in 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.”
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, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, May 20. Student teams will build model planes with judging criteria to include the longest flying distance. Seaberg, along with Jacque Pregont, Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum board member and coordinator of the annual Atchison Amelia Earhart Festival, will serve on the judging panel.
The Amelia Earhart STEM Challenge is organized by Clare Doherty, the great-great granddaughter of Robert Gallagher who owned the farm where Amelia landed on May 21, 1932. The Gallagher family opened their home to Amelia, providing food and a place to sleep. Doherty is the 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 and along the flight path of Earhart’s landing on Gallagher’s farm in Ballyarnett, along with a trophy from the Amelia Earhart Legacy Association.
Other 90th anniversary events throughout Derry include:

McElhinney, along with AELA co-founder Brona Sharkey, visited Atchison as special guest speakers during the 2019 Atchison Amelia Earhart Festival. “It was a dream come true to come to the U.S. and walk the same streets in Atchison where Amelia grew up,” McElhinney said. “All of us in Derry look forward to returning for the grand opening of the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in 2023.”
This month, Atchison Mayor Abby Bartlett issued a proclamation recognizing Atchison, Kansas, in the U.S. and Derry in Northern Ireland as “bonded by their ties to Amelia Earhart’s beginnings and monumental accomplishments.” It acknowledges their mutual “dedication to honor and recognize the contributions made by Amelia Earhart in aeronautics and to educate and share with others the history and courageous exploits of Amelia Earhart.”
“Amelia faced many obstacles, but she persevered and believed in her dream of flight,” Seaberg added. “With our partners across the Atlantic, we’re committed to sharing Amelia’s story of tenacity and courage to inspire future generations — in Kansas, in Derry and around the globe.”
ABOUT THE AMELIA EARHART HANGAR MUSEUM The Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum — opening in 2023 — will honor Earhart’s aviation legacy and inspire all generations in the pursuit of flight. Surrounded by immersive STEM and history storytelling exhibits will be Muriel — the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E — identical to the plane Earhart flew on her final flight. Located at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in Atchison, Kan. (K59) — birthplace of the world-renowned aviator — the Museum will take visitors on a journey through Earhart’s inspiring life, from growing up in Atchison to the height of her worldwide fame. The Museum is partnering with Kansas-based Dimensional Innovations for exhibit design and fabrication. When completed, the Museum will apply to become an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more, visit http://www.ameliaearharthangarmuseum.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Amelia Earhart Legacy Association is a volunteer group in Derry, Northern Ireland. Established in 2015, AELA is dedicated to promoting the pioneering spirit of Amelia Earhart who landed in Derry on May 21, 1932. AELA is focused on sharing Earhart’s inspiring story to encourage young people to realize their dreams. For more, visit http://www.ameliaearhartlegacyassociation.co.uk or follow on Facebook.com/Amelia-Derry-Earhart and Twitter @AmeliaDerry.
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