As the mystique about Amelia Earhart lives on, so does her legacy inspiring many to dream big and not give up to achieve one’s goals in life. Jeanine Kiehl Wyatt and Aimee Bissonette are two such women.
Wyatt and Bissonette were the two featured authors present as Amelia Earhart fans gathered from near and far for a meet and greet with two children’s book authors during the Breakfast with the Books event Saturday at Benedictine College.
Wyatt, a Lawrence resident, is an Atchison native educated in Atchison schools has heard and read about Earhart throughout her life. “Meelie’s Christmas,” by J.A. Kiehl, a pen name, was released in June. It is Wyatt’s second book on the topic of Earhart.
Wyatt’s current book is representative of what traditional Christmas celebrations were like for a very young Earhart with her parents, sister and “Grandfather and Grandmother Otis” her maternal grandparents. Wyatt, a former Amelia Earhart Birthplace and Museum trustee and docent, based her latest book on research from her local knowledge as well as oral stories, writings about Amelia and the 19th century Victorian era.
From the coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota to the banks of Amelia Earhart’s hometown in Atchison, came Bissonette. Bissonette was here to talk about the children’s book she wrote “Aim for the Skies” about two women pilots who in 1964 successfully fulfilled Earhart’s dream to fly around the world. Bissonette’s book was released in Sept. 18.
The two women, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock and Joan Merriam Smith, both inspired by Earhart’s aviation dreams and her accomplishments.
Although unplanned, Mock and Smith seemingly crossed paths as they forged on in their respective endeavors to become the first woman to fly around the world. Bissonette tells their stories in her book.
The women unaware of one another and their common goal each departed in their respective planes and embarked along their designated routes to circumnavigate the globe. Smith traveled the same route as Amelia’s fateful flight, Bissonette said.
Mock managed to complete her special journey first and landed with her claim staked in the history books to become known as the first female pilot to successfully fly around the world.
Wyatt is currently retired from the field of human resource management, and has another Earhart-inspired children’s book in works with more of an appeal for boys, she said. In addition to writing, Wyatt is also a painter. Her first book centered on Earhart’s last visit to Atchison.
Bissonette also has a versatile background that includes occupational therapy, education, writer, lawyer and small business owner.
Both Wyatt and Bissonette are world travelers. The authors told the audience about their experiences they’ve encountered in their writing professions.
Audience members asked questions that ranged from anticipated dates concerning the authors’ next books.