Linda Finch - World Flight 1997 - Recreation of Historic Flight

Recreation of Historic Flight

Finch’s recreated flight began from Oakland International Airport at Oakland, California, on March 17, 1997. This was 60 years later to the day of Amelia Earhart's 1937 infamous around-the-world flight attempt in her twin-engine plane. Finch’s flight took 10 weeks to complete as she flew in increments of eight hours to 18 hours at a time on average. This was her length between landings where she had rest periods.

Retracing the flight path of Amelia Earhart, Finch closely followed the same route that Earhart flew, stopping at 36 way-points in 18 countries before finishing the trip two and a half months (a total of 73 days) later when she landed back at the Oakland Airport on May 28. The trip was about 26,000-miles long. Finch's flight and education programs were supported by The Hartford Currant, with a reporter and photographer. Reid Dennis provided a videographer, and a support plane to assist in telling Amelia's and Linda's message - "That you can have your dreams - and they should be big dreams". Earhart had none of these modern electronic equipment devices. The Electra's cabin is not pressurized and it does not carry oxygen and, like Earhart, Finch had to fly below 10,000 ft for much of the flight.

Finch touched down on five continents while mirroring Earhart's route and stops as best she could. She was unable to secure permission to overfly Libya and made more stops while crossing the Pacific than were planned by Earhart because some areas didn't have the right fuel for the restored Electra. Her next to last leg was an eight-hour flight from Kiritimati to Hawaii. In that leg Finch did not land at Howland Island, the destination that Earhart never reached, because of the deteriorated state of the airfield on the one-mile-long island. She did however drop a single wreath over Howland Island from her aircraft in honor of the pioneering aviatrix. Finch’s last leg on May 28 was an estimated 15-hour flight between Hawaii and Oakland, California. At the time of this historic flight in 1997, Finch was 46-years-old, five years older than Earhart's age on her final flight.

Finch believed that Earhart's courage, heroism and limitless vision are powerful inspirations for young people of all ages. Finch tied her flight to an educational program called "You Can Soar." Finch’s team, and Pratt & Whitney, developed a comprehensive free multimedia educational outreach program as part of the historic recreated flight. It reached a million at-risk and minority middle school students and their teachers in the United States as they followed her progress daily. Finch met with groups of school children at all her stops in the United States and many of her stops overseas. Pratt & Whitney provided World Flight 1997 an official web site with a multimedia school program that used the flight to teach geography, science, weather and mathematics to students. As well, the high-tech computer and communication equipment in her aircraft allowed children in some 200,000 classrooms around the world to chart her progress via the Internet. The website was accessed approximately 30 million times in 2 1/2 months. Finch said she used a laptop in the cockpit of the Electra to answer e-mail messages and she spent four or five hours every day after landing to keep in touch with her businesses and her three children: Julie, Leslie and Katie (ages 28, 21 and two at the time).

After finishing the historic flight, Finch said to the spectators and media gathered at Oakland International Airport:

Now that I'm home I can confidently say that Amelia Earhart's message is as alive and vibrant today as it was 60 years ago. She is the guiding spirit behind this project. We saw many of the same things, inquisitive faces of children in Africa, eager to learn about the life of a woman pilot and the extraordinary freedoms that we have in the United States. It's been a wonderful ride, filled with memories I will never forget for as long as I live. But the world truly is getting smaller and smarter. And my wish is that good work carries on. I also want every one of the students in the audience to remember that you too can soar on the wings of your own dreams and how wonderful those dreams are. I will continue to spread that message to anyone who will listen, just as Amelia did in her lifetime.

Following the world flight, Finch appeared at numerous aviation-related events including the EAA Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to describe the "wonderful ride." The Lockheed Electra 10E, S/N 1015, N72GT used in the historic flight, as of early 2008, is registered in Cody, Wyoming, and hangared in New Mexico. Help The Museum of Flight to acquire the Electra and return it to its purpose - educating and inspiring young people. Contact the museum at 206.764.5720.

Read more about this topic:  Linda Finch, World Flight 1997

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