April 8, 1931: Even for Amelia Earhart, this has been quite an adventurous day.
Not only did she set an altitude record that was until now held by a man, she broke her own record a few hours later, and did it all in an unusual type of aircraft. No one had ever taken an autogyro to 18,000 feet, but today she did so twice, the second time soaring to 18,415 feet.
Though fixed-wing aircraft have been around for almost 28 years, this new type was only invented in 1923. It uses a standard engine and propeller on the front for forward thrust, but in addition to two small wings on the side, and a standard tail, it also has four unpowered wings above, which rotate to provide lift as the craft moves forward through the air.
Earhart arrived at Pitcairn Aviation Field, near Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, this morning with George Palmer Putnam, her husband of just under eight…