GREENVILLE, S.C. – “I have often heard about Amelia Earhart’s visits to Anderson and Spartanburg, but who knew that she had come to Greenville!” stated Joe Frasher, who has been the Airport Director of the Greenville Downtown Airport for over 33 years.
When Greenville Chautauqua decided to bring “Amelia Earhart” to their June 2016 History Alive Festival, they asked Lara Kaufmann, Public Relations Director of the Downtown Airport to present a discussion on Amelia and women in aviation. In preparing for this talk, 84-year-old Greenville News articles were discovered in the South Carolina Room at the Hughes Main Library in Downtown Greenville. They told of a trip that Amelia Earhart made here during the weekend of November 12-14, 1931. The same weekend that Greenville was celebrating its Centennial. The stories recorded her luncheon at the Poinsett Hotel and demonstration flights at the Downtown Airport, then called the Greenville Municipal Airport. “Miss Amelia Earhart set the first autogiro ever to stop in Greenville down at the local flying field yesterday afternoon as approximately 4,000 persons looked on. She brought the awkward-looking windmill ship down to earth almost vertically… The world-known Miss Earhart, first woman to fly the stormy Atlantic is flying the autogyro along a route of Southern cities for the Beech Nut Products concern… She will speak at a Dutch luncheon at the Poinsett hotel…” one article reads.
Amelia’s flying adventures were covered by media all over the world, including our very own Greenville News, which has been writing about Greenville since 1874. In articles, and in the three books that she wrote, she spoke of visions from the air that most people had never seen… clouds, landscapes, vast views of terrain, cities, shore lines and sunsets as well as flying adventures, women’s issues and advertising.
“This surprising find led to a fun discussion. Since Greenville Chautauqua strives to bring history to life, through interactive theater, by bringing voices from the past to celebrate our history… why not sort of recreate and celebrate her visit to our community!” stated Caroline McIntyre, Greenville Chautauqua’s Administrator and Media Contact.
After hearing about the fun and educational experience that was being created, so many organizations have lined up to help. Triple Tree Aerodrome is supplying a 1929 Golden Eagle Chief – one of only two known to be still flying in the world – for Amelia’s arrival. The Upcountry History Museum and Greenville Chautauqua will have Amelia Earhart stories and 1930’s Greenville photos on display in the Runway Cafe’s hangar. Volunteers from Chautauqua will host 1930’s games and a 1930’s costume contest with prizes donated by local businesses. Vintage cars from the owners of White Horse Flea Market will be on display. Maserati Lotus Greenville is supplying a 1930’s vintage auto that will take Amelia to lunch at the Poinsett Hotel where Centre Stage’s “Sisters of Swing” will entertain.
“Come out to the airport for a free event to hear more of her great life!” invited Frasher. Want to come?
Free Events at the Greenville Downtown Airport: – Runway Park at Greenville Downtown Airport, 21 Airport Rd Ext, Greenville, SC 29607
10am – Runway Cafe’s hangar will have historical displays of Greenville, 1930’s games, vintage cars and a 1930’s (or Amelia Earhart look alike) costume contest.
11am – “Amelia Earhart” will land outside the Runway Cafe in the 1929 Gold Eagle Chief (weather permitting). She will greet and interact with the crowd. She will then be whisked away in a vintage car to a luncheon at the Poinsett Hotel.
“Lunch with Amelia” in Poinsett Hotel Ballroom – Poinsett Hotel, 120 S. Main St, Greenville, SC 29601
12 noon – Lunch at Poinsett Hotel. Performance by Chautauqua Historical Interpreter Leslie Goddard as Amelia Earhart with a sneak preview of Centre Stage’s “Sisters of Swing.” Tickets for “Lunch with Amelia” are $30 and must be purchased in advance. No tickets sold at the door. Call 864-244-1499 for reservations.
Event Sponsors include: Greenville Downtown Airport, Runway Cafe, Westin Poinsett Hotel, Maserati Lotus Greenville, Upcountry History Museum, Centre Stage, Pepsi, Lockheed Martin, Champion Aerospace, White Horse Flea Market, Duke’s Mayonnaise and C. F. Sauer Company.
Leslie Goddard (Amelia Earhart) – from Chicago, IL
Goddard holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, specializing in U.S. history, American studies and women’s history, as well as master’s degrees in theater and in museum studies. She is an award-winning actress and scholar who has portrayed famous women in history for more than ten years. She presents more than 250 programs a year, and has performed in 15 states. Many will remember her portrayals of Betty Davis and Mark Pickford for Chautauqua in Greenville, Spartanburg and Asheville. She is the author of two history books. She is also a former speaker with the Illinois Humanities Council’s Road Scholars program and currently serves on the executive committees of both the Chicago Civil War Roundtable and the Illinois State Historical Society. While not a licensed pilot herself, she has taken flying lessons and is happy to remain earth-bound. www.lesliegoddard.info
For more information please visit greenvillechautauqua.org or contact Caroline McIntyre at caroline@greenvilleCHAUTAUQUA.org or 864.244.1499 office / 864.360.7500 cell