Amelia Earhart Crossed Wyoming In A ‘Giro-Plane’
In researching the wonderful story recently posted here on Wyoming’s part in early transcontinental air mail, something came up that deserves a post of its own: “Amelia Earhart Once Piloted ‘Weird Windmill Ship’ across Wyoming.”
Amelia Earhart was a record-setter for experimental aircraft who flew across Wyoming, and made plans for a vacation home in the mountains above Meeteetse.
Earhart had a love of “shining adventure” (which may have made her an honorary Wyomingite in itself). She flew an auto-giro across the country in June 1931, stopping at Cheyenne, Laramie, Parco (now Sinclair), Rock Springs and Le Roy. She had never been to Laramie, but on this trip she wowed that crowd like a champ as well. According to the Wyoming State Tribune and Cheyenne State Leader stories, “fully half of the population” of the city had gone to the airport during Earhart’s time in Cheyenne.
This giro plane had the look of a fixed-wing plane with an engine and prop on the front, but above her seat were four long rotors like a helicopter. A 52-gallon fuel tank sat between her open cockpit, and the blades. Man, she did have guts, and I don’t mean “for a girl.” The rotors could make take offs and landings shorter, which we can only guess helped in flying in and out of some airports that were just fields in the west.
This aircraft, whatever it’s called now, was labeled the “flying windmill” by the press. Wanting to see a transcontinental record in this contraption, Amelia had already set an altitude record in it. Amelia Earhart wanted to be first at everything aviation.
On Highway 120 just north of Meeteetse, Wyoming is a monument celebrating “Lady Lindy” and her trips to The Cowboy State.