From USA Today:
More than seven decades after she flew off into the wild blue yonder, Earhart is fixed in the American consciousness more firmly than ever — maybe as much as she was in the 1930s, when she was a world-famous aviator, hero-worshiped by millions. She was one of the first mega-celebrities, who did things few people had ever done, let alone women. In 1937, she tried to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed Electra — and was never heard from again.
At a time when women had only recently acquired the right to vote, when people (well, men) actually believed women couldn't fly because their periods would make them go berserk in the cockpit, and when flying was a truly dangerous occupation, Earhart cheerily defied conventions and got away with it. She lectured, wrote a magazine column, designed clothes and luggage, endorsed products, promoted aviation.
And she set records: In 1928 she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a plane, as a passenger. In 1932 she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic alone.