Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, an d the first to cross the North American continent alone. Her exploits as an aviator, her beauty and intelligence, her independence and charm made her a national heroine. Seemingly invincible, Earhart tirelessly traveled and lectured, a champion of aviation and equal opportunity f or women. But her cheering public didn't know the cost of her courage. The record-breaking flights, the aerial exhibitions and races, the in terviews to support her favorite causes, the endless speeches and prom otional commitments, together with household responsibilities, health problems, and financial worries, combined to push Earhart to the point of exhaustion. In 1937, she set out to accomplish yet another first: to circle the earth along the equator on an east-west flight. Friends warned that her preparations were hurried, even careless. When her pla ne disappeared without a trace, the "First Lady of the Air" was instan tly transformed into an American legend.