The Amelia Earhart Award is a tribute to the jet-setter, record-breaking, female aviation pioneer. Amelia Earhart, as is well known, disappeared while attempting to become the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Her other notable achievements included the first female solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Amelia Earhart Award is the second major milestone award of the United State Air Force Auxiliary's Cadet Program. The USAF Auxiliary, or frequently called the Civil Air Patrol, has a three-fold mission which is: Emergency Services, Aerospace Education, and the Cadet Program. The Civil Air Patrol has squadrons in all 50 US states, as well as Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and Overseas squadrons (usually attached to Active Duty bases).

The Cadet Program, open to American citizens between the ages of 12 and 21, is broken up into sixteen achievements. Passing an achievement is based upon a cadet's ability to succeed in academic tests of leadership and aerospace, as well as physical fitness and participation in moral leadership sessions. The Amelia Earhart Award is a prestigious award which can only be earned after completing the first eleven achievements, earning the General Billy Mitchell Award, obtaining the grade of c/1st Lieutenant and passing a comprehensive 100-question examination. As of June 22nd, 2002, there have only been 11,821 awardees (myself, the lastest in this statistic) since 1964. Because of the award's importance, it is normally presented in an official ceremony by a CAP Wing Commander or higher, or a state or federal government elected official.

Upon earning the award, the cadet is promoted to the grade of c/Captain and is allowed to wear the award's corresponding ribbon on their dress uniform. The ribbon is white, with three thin colored vertical stripes in the middle, each spaced equally from each other. The center stripe is red flanked by two blue stripes.

With the award, the cadet is also eligible to automatically become a 1st Lieutenant in the US Air Force Auxiliary upon their 21st birthday, in what is called "Senior membership". Earhart cadets are also qualified to participate in the International Air Cadet Exchange, and are accorded all the benefits that go along with the General Billy Mitchell Award. The Award looks great for applicants to any of the US Service Academies, as well as for employment and college admissions. The award comes with an oversized certificate with facimile signatures of the National Commader and other high ranking officers, bearing a vingette of Amelia Earhart and the uniform ribbon earned for the achievement, the name of the recipient, the date of award (which is the date recorded in the cadet's personnel records), the award number, and the official seal of the US Air Force Auxiliary. It is a very impressive award suitable for framing and hanging in an office or any other room.

Having been accorded with this award myself, I can say it is certainly a great achievement to have under one's belt. The ceremony usually brings a small bit of local publicity, affords the awardee a chance to chat with either a fairly high ranking officer, or the governmental official who presented the award. It also often lands a picture of the awardee somewhere in the local media. It is certainly a significant mark of achievement for any cadet in the Civil Air Patrol program.

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