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Amelia Earhart went missing in 1937, during an attempt to be the first person to fly around the world. She only made it three quarters of her 27,000 mile journey and neither she, her navigator or her plane were ever seen again.
But right now, at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, you can see an exact replica of the plane Earhart flew. It was recently acquired and made a part of the museum’s permanent collection. This plane has an interesting story of it’s own and you don’t have to be an aviation geek to find it fascinating.
“This is a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra,” says Museum of Flight’s Ted Huetter. “It was built in 1935. It originally went to service for Northwest Airlines. It was a working airplane for almost 80 years, flying for airlines here. Then during World War II it was pressed into service by the Air Corps. After the war it went to Brazil where it flew for the Brazilian army for a while. It made it’s way back to the states. Right up until the 1990’s it was still doing small airline service.”
In the 90’s it was bought by a woman named Linda Finch…
“Who wanted to recreate Amelia Earhart’s flight around the world, successfully this time, in the same type [of plane] that Amelia flew in 1937 in her round the world attempt. So she wanted to do it on the 60th anniversary of that flight. So she bought this airplane and had it reconfigured to be exactly like Earhart’s.”
The exterior is the same silver, buffed aluminum and the seats inside were taken out to make room for fuel tanks, just like Amelia Earhart’s plane.
“She also went to the FAA and was able to get the original registration number put on the airplane that was on Earhart’s. So for all practical purposes, it’s identical.”
Along with the plane, the museum has a few extremely rare artifacts.
“This is one of her scarves. That was sort of a signature for her. She always had a flying scarf. Oddly enough, she didn’t have one on her last flight which wasn’t so lucky. But this is one of her silk scarves. This scarf has another part of the history because in 2009 it was brought up in the space shuttle. So it has actually flown in space.”
Not only did Amelia Earhart fly without her lucky scarf and bracelet, at the last minute she chose to leave her parachute and inflatable life raft behind. I saw a fascinating documentary about Amelia Earhart that depicted her as very ill prepared for this flight, but that doesn’t make her any less courageous in America’s eyes. She still remains one of America’s great heroes and early feminists.
“It’s amazing how influential Amelia Earhart was to women in aviation. I have met women astronauts, women airline pilots who all grew up idolizing this woman. We hope that the permanent presence of it here will help inspire more in the future.”
The museum raised more than a million dollars to buy the airplane and 70 percent of the funds raised came from women and girls. You can visit the “In Search of Amelia Earhart” exhibit through the end of April, but the airplane will remain a part of the permanent collection.