Amelia Earhart in Greenville, SC


The Aviatrix, Amelia Earhart | Photos via Purdue University E-Archives

Table of Contents

If you didn’t already know, November is National Aviation Month, which celebrates America’s contributions + achievements in aviation. It’s easy to think about the future as you travel in and out of Greenville, but do you ever take a moment to think about Greenville’s aviation past?

Both of our airports — Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) + Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) — have rich histories, but GMU has a particularly unique moment in history that happened this month, 90 years ago.

On the weekend of Nov. 13, 1931, the Amelia Earhart made a stop in Greenville at the Greenville Municipal Airport during her transcontinental tour to promote the Beechnut gum in a Beechnut-branded autogiro — an aircraft that looked like a helicopter-airplane hybrid.

Thankfully, the Greenville News meticulously documented the entire visit — one that was no walk in Falls Park, as the aviatrix had quite the packed schedule.

Friday, Nov. 13, 1931

4:40 p.m. | Amelia arrives from Spartanburg into Greenville and is greeted by 4,000 people along with Mayor A.C. Mann, the chairman of the airport commission, members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and “a bevy of girl scouts.”

She is also interviewed by the Greenville Women’s College journalism class.

7:30 p.m. | After being escorted into town by two motorcycle officers + six cars, Amelia attends Ladies Night as their guest of honor, hosted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce at the Poinsett Hotel.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 1931

12:30 p.m. | Amelia speaks at a public luncheon to nearly 150 people at the Poinsett Hotel.

2:30 p.m. | Amelia presents and demos her autogiro aircraft for nearly 10,000 spectators in Anderson, SC.

Sunday, Nov. 15, 1931

Early morning | Amelia departs Greenville for her next stop: Columbia, SC.

So, what did Amelia and her flight crew think about our city?

“You certainly have an air-minded city” and that the crowd waiting to greet her was, ‘one of the largest crowds we have had out to greet Miss Earhart.” — William A. O’Brien, Amelia’s mechanic.

And what about our own Greenvillians of the aviatrix?

“I was impressed by the perfect pronunciation of Miss Amelia Earhart in her address…” “She’s a good speaker.”— Dr. J.A. Barnhardt, an attendee of the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s Ladies Night

“These young journalists fully realized that they were interviewing one of the greatest women of this modern age.” — Greenville Women’s College journalism class

News Clippings from the Greenville News


A much-anticipated arrival | Clipping from The Greenville News, Friday, Nov. 13, 1931


The autogiro, a “strange ship” | Clipping from from The Greenville News, Sunday, Nov. 15, 1931


The talk of the town | Clipping from from The Greenville News


More from GVLtoday