Gelatin silver print, 1921
Earhart went to high school in Chicago, attended a women’s finishing school outside of Philadelphia, and enrolled for a year in pre-med classes at Columbia University in New York City. She left school in 1920 in order to be with her reunited parents, who had moved to Los Angeles. There her interest in aviation was born. After attending several local air shows, an increasingly popular entertainment during this period, she became infatuated with flying.
This photograph shows Earhart standing with her first flight instructor, Neta Snook (1896–1991), in front of the secondhand Kinner Airster that she bought in the summer of 1921 with money borrowed from her mother. In order to pay for her piloting lessons, Earhart worked as a mail clerk for a telephone company. She found this job tedious, but it convinced her parents of her commitment to learn how to fly.