POSTED: 11:26 a.m. HST, Jul 12, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 11:46 a.m. HST, Jul 12, 2014
OAKLAND, Calif. >> Amelia Rose Earhart has completed the round-the-world flight that her namesake never finished nearly eight decades ago.
The 31-year-old pilot completed the 24,300-mile journey Friday when she and her co-pilot landed at Oakland International Airport, where she was greeted by her parents and crowds of supporters.
"I feel like we've brought Amelia Earhart home to Oakland," Earhart said after landing the flight from Honolulu. "She brought me all this way, and I got to carry her forward."
Earhart, a former traffic and weather reporter, is not related to the famed aviator who disappeared during her attempted global flight in 1937.
The Denver resident and her co-pilot Shane Jordan took off from Oakland on June 26 and made 17 stops in 14 countries. They flew in a Pilatus PC-12 single-engine plane equipped with GPS and other modern technology her namesake never had.
Earhart said she hopes the global flight will inspire girls to fly. She runs a nonprofit, the Fly With Amelia Foundation, that sends teenage girls to flight school.
Earhart used to be embarrassed by the famous name her mother gave her, but she later embraced flying. She earned her license at 21 after working multiple jobs while studying at the University of Colorado to pay for flight lessons, according to the Oakland Tribune.
"Who knew she was going to do the obvious and fly?" said her mother, Debborah Dale. "She did this because she has something to give."
Elwood Ballard, who was 7 when he watched Amelia Mary Earhart take off from Oakland in 1937, watched Amelia Rose take off last month and land Friday. Upon her return, he presented her with a bouquet of roses.
"I've been waiting 77 years for this," said the 84-year-old Ballard. "After all these years, never thought that I would see the day."