On a fine Saturday afternoon in May, 1932, a small red Lockheed Vega approached the city from Moville direction and circled the Shantallow area, it did a very low pass then climbed and circled a couple of times before coming in to land, touching down and coming to a halt at Cornshell, Ballyarnett. On board was Amelia Earhart, the first women to cross the Atlantic alone.
She was greeted by James McGeady and Dan McCallion who were working in a nearby field and watched the events unfold, Amelia wanted to make a phone call and the owner of the field Robert Gallagher took her to Derry Post Office where she called the Press Association:
’ "Hello, this is Amelia Earhart speaking " she said. " I've done it, although I had to land here in the pastures outside Derry. I'm not a bit hurt and I think the plane is all right. I had trouble with my exhaust manifold which has burnt out. I had this trouble for about ten hours, and for a lot of the way I was flying through storms - rain, mist and a little fog. On this go I was flying low the whole time and had to rely on myself. I am afraid I'm a bit deaf after the terrible roar of the engines in my ears all the time, but at any rate, I've done it. In addition the petrol gauge had broken, probably in the storm of the night and there was a little leakage, so I decided to come down. I landed in an open field a mile or two from the town of Derry. The first one to greet me was the owner of the field. My first thought on getting here was to ring up the press association so that my safe landing would be made known without delay’.
Unfortunately Derrry City Council closed the Amelia Earhart Centre which was built near the spot where she landed to celebrate this great achievement. Amelia Earhart was aiming to reach Paris to recreate Lindberg's epic solo flight in May 1927 and was airborne for 15 hours and 18 minutes. Campaigns are afoot to create something in the city that marks this amazing women. Amelia disappeared in 1937 along with her co-pilot Fred Noonan while flying from New Guinea to Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Image courtesy of: Sergio Caltagirone ©