Amelia Mary Earhart never got to complete her trip around the world—so Amelia Rose Earhart (real name!) did it for her. The latter, 31, made history on Friday, July 11, when she became the youngest woman ever to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine plane, a journey her namesake attempted nearly eight decades ago.
Though she bears no relation to the pioneering aviatrix, the modern-day Earhart has always felt a connection to Amelia Mary because of their shared monikers. "My parents wanted to give me a name that no one would ever forget and would be a source of inspiration," she tells Us Weekly.
Initially, she says, it was more a source of embarrassment—but that changed. "During my school days, kids would tease me and I went by Amy until I was 18. It took me a while to grow into Amelia, but once I did, I realized the power behind the name and fully embraced it," she explains.
With that in mind, the sometime television and radio reporter based out of Denver, Colo., set about planning the adventure of a lifetime. She got her private pilot's license in 2010, and completed her instrument training hours in 2012, by flying the final trans-continental route of the original Amelia Earhart. She also made a trans-Atlantic trip from Switzerland to Colorado earlier this year.
On Wednesday, June 25, Earhart set off her 17-day, 17-city circumnavigational flight, appropriately named The Amelia Project. She first flew from Denver to Oakland, Calif., where the late Earhart began her around-the-world journey back in 1937. A friend and copilot, Shane Jordan, joined her in the cockpit. They arrived back in Oakland on July 11, two days after circling around Howland Island, believed to be Amelia Mary's final resting place.
"It was over Howland Island that I was able to grant, via Twitter, 10 flight-training scholarships to young women across the U.S. through my nonprofit, the Fly With Amelia Foundation," Earhart tells Us. (In fact, in cooperation with Target, the entire journey was documented via social media, with pictures, tweets, and video, all using the hashtag "#flywithamelia.")
"I've always had an adventurous spirit, and when I took my first discovery flight 10 years ago, I immediately fell in love with flying and haven't looked back since," she says. "My connection to Amelia Mary through a common name has inspired me to be a strong, confident woman and to pursue adventure."