NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
24 Sep 1996
- United States
Stereo=1; Dual-Channel Mono
NPR/National Geographic Society
World Flight 1997
2 way with Linda Finch September 24, 1996
LF = Linda Finch
AC = Alex Chadwick
2:52 AC -Tell me what Ms. Earhart set off to do in 1937?
LF: On March 17, 1937 Amelia Earhart attempted to fly around the world at the Equator, which would have been a new world record for her.
AC -And really for everyone ¬
LF -No one had ever flown around the Equator before. wally Post had flown around the world but not at the Equator, and not at that kind of distances.
3:19 AC -Do you have some sense what Amelia Earhart was as a person?
LF -I think so. When I first started the project it was an airplane project and a flight, but I started learning about Amelia, and I really came to feel like I know her. She had a message to deliver, and really worked very hard all of her life to deliver that message. And although Z think that flying was a part of her being, that she really flew in order to get the recognition in order to convince people that they could do what they wanted -that they could have their dreams and do things that were important to them; especially women in the 1930s, but that people were not limited to small lives, that hey could have their dreams. 4:01
4:02 AC: that was her message, you think.
LF: that was her message. i have talked to family members, and I have talked to friends of hers -Fagellis Wells (sp?) was a foreign correspondence in the '20s in Russia, and flew with Amelia, and helped formed the 99s -a womens pilot organization with Amelia, and she spent quite a bit of time talking to me about how Amelia felt, and if you listen to the things she said ¬there are tapes of interviews of Amelia. there are articles that she wrote. she was the aviation editor for cosmopolitan magazine, and NG wrote a wonderful article about her about medals she received when she flew the Atlantic. but if you look at the articles that Amelia wrote that message comes through very clearly.
AC: has that message inspired your flight? i mean here you are living your dream which in some way is her dream
4:56 LF -certainly. it is a message that i have always believed all my life -that you can do what you want to do -that you have to be very specific about setting a goal and having a dream, and then working at it a little bit each day. when i want something that is very important.... i had a little sticker on my bathroom mirror so every single morning i looked at that and reminded me to do something toward that goal everyday. and i think that is the same message that Amelia had, and something that i really want to communicate to people. 5:30
AC -telling us what you are setting out to do on March 17, 1997. what is your goal?
5:38 LF -On March 17, 1997 I will depart Oakland, California and recreate and complete Amelia Earhart's flight around the world. we will be flying in an aircraft that is the exact same model Amelia flew. It has been modified in the same model that Lockheed modified Amelia's plane, and we will be following the same route that she flew around the world. 5:58
AC -What do you do when you get to that point where she disappeared?
LF -well, she only lacked 2 legs, and we know obviously she intended to go from there to Honolulu and Oakland. so we will complete the flight. we will also land before and after Howland island, the area she disappeared, and be over flying Howland and drop a wreath in her memory. 6:18
6:19 AC -when you say you will land before and after Howland island, where are you going to land? bc they were going to that island bc it was the only place to go, weren't they?
6:28 LF -well, it was the only place to go in her time bc the Japanese had possession of most of the islands in that area of the Pacific. Actually, the WPA built a runway on Howland Island that was completed almost immediately before she departed for Howland the first time. So we will be landing on some of those other islands that were occupied by the Japanese. 6:47
6:49 AC -isn't there still an enormous breath of water that you have to cross in a very small airplane -that essentially hasn't done that before?
7:02 LF -absolutely. we will be going -the longest leg that we have to fly is from Honolulu to Oakland, and there is nowhere to go in between Honolulu and Oakland. It is 2500 miles approximately, and depending on winds it will take us an excess of 15 hours on that air craft.
well, i am sure that some people hearing about this flight would say what is the point in setting off in an aircraft that is already failed at this once. i mean it is dangerous. maybe recklessly dangerous.
7:36 LF -well i have a lot of advantages that Amelia didn't have. the airplane will be restored in the same matter as her airplane, except that we will have modern navigation, and communication and flight instruments. that she just didn't have available at the time. bc of the satellites we will know exactly where we are and everyone in the world will know exactly where we are every 15 mins. there will be automatic reporting of that position. the flight -i think -needs to be done in the right airplane and the right route and be historically correct to generate the excitement in order to communicate our message. if i went around in a modern airplane that happens all the time, no one would care and no one would listen to that message. 8:16
8:21 AC -what in your own background qualifies you for this?
LF -well, i have flown for a little over 20 years. and have flown airplanes that have tail wheels or tail dragger aircraft, WWII airplanes as well as trainers. I have developed and managed my own businesses which is a big part of this project -to be able to put it all together and obtain the funding and produce the educational materials. and i really want to -and that is probably the biggest part of it. it is something that i have been working on for seven years and just want to see it all the way through. 8:56
AC -why is it that in 60 years since Ms Earhart first attempted this, why is that anyone hasn't tried to recreate this flight in this exact plane, in her plane.
LF -well there was a flight on the 30th anniversary in a similar aircraft, an Lockheed Electra, but not the Electra Lockheed 1OE which is the exact model Amelia flew. the aircraft is very rare. there were only 15 manufactured, initially is the 20s and 30s. and there are only 2 left in the world. so that we are just so please to have gotten one of the two. the aircraft was in boxes and pieces and parts and one of the things that i discovered in the project is that prior to WWII there were no parts manuals...well, the Electra has no pictures. you get just a big box of pieces and it is like a jigsaw puzzle -you have to figure out how to put it together. so it was quite a challenge to find this particular airplane and 0 restore it to the proper condition. 9:59
10:00 AC -when you are sitting there on the runway you are rolling down and you are headed toward lift-off doesn't that -we don't quite know how the parts fit together -bother you.
10:13 LF -well, the first time we were very careful about that lift-off. we can measure, we can check, we can look at similar aircraft. there are several gentlemen that put together old airplanes and work in the restoration process, and we had just about every competent one i knew helping and advising and checking with us. but the first flight was very exciting, and it certainly was an experiment...we would take our time to check out each section...until we finally were flying. and we flew directly over the airport. we didn't go anywhere but straight up, so we could actually glide straight down for the first flight. but certainly the first flight was many unknowns. 10:56
AC -what is this airplane like to handle when you are flying it?
11:02 LF well it is a little different for me bc i am used to the WWII fighters and there id a big nose out in front of you and you can't see in front of you so you learn to fly using your peripheral vision with a tail dragger aircrafter -i learned to fly that way be that is the plane i flew. and this airplane has no nose, and no peripheral vision. the engines are now in the way were i used to looking and now i have this open area in front of me. and it moves very slowly in comparison. the speeds are much slower. and it has a wheel. it is like a big whole steering wheel, so you have to turn it almost like you are turning a car. it is very graceful, and it is very slow, it is almost peaceful -but it has been exciting learning to fly with those different perspectives. 11:46
AC -when you say that it doesn't have a nose. you mean when you are on the runway getting ready to take off you can see in front of you? whereas with these old planes you cannot see in front of you.
LF -that is correct. when there is a single engine plane -and that is what those WWII fighters are -that engine, massive engine -is in front of you. this one has just a small nose on the aircraft. there is nothing that you don't see as you are flying, it is just a big open space... it is a little bit harder for me to have that perspective of where i am. 12:13
AC -...what is your air speed?
12:21 LF -um, it pretty much takes off around 65/70 miles per hour which is slow for an aircraft.
AC -and when you get up how fast can you qo?
LF -150 to 180 miles per hour.
AC -so it is qoing to take you a long time to get around the world.
LF -yes, yes it is. about 2 and a half months for the entire trip.
12:43 AC -doesn't it get very wearing physically to be up there is the cockpit. bc that is quite a lot of noise up there? isn't it? and here you are flying along, and i would think it would get tedious.
LF -the noise is extreme. that was a new problem that we discovered when we got to fly the aircraft last month. the noise at take-off was actually painful to the eardrums which means the decibels where just out of sight and we have done some insulation, and we have some people working on head sets and hearing protection. the time in the cockpit -it is a very small cockpit -the seats do not recline or move. they are actually just cana1eavered off of a metal wall, and so they go nowhere. and the whole cockpit is maybe 4 feet square inside the area that you are sitting. so it is going to be tedious it is going to be long. and i am certain of that fatigue and the noise must have been phenomenal for Amelia without those hearing protection issues that we have. 13:41
AC -i wonder if you don't get up there and start flying this aircraft around, which really you have not been doing for very long bc you just put it back together. and ask yourself, gee this is something i have gotten into but is it something i really want to do?
14:00 LF -well, when it comes to flying the airplane that is an easy answer -Yes. this is something i really want to do. the parts i wonder about ever once in a while is whether i am going to get all the educational materials produced and the communications done, and the appointments done and really the business part in putting the whole project together. but the flight is going to be fun.
AC -let me ask you about that...the educational aspects of it... don't people already know everything they need to know about Amelia Earhart?
14:28 -LF -I think most people know very little about Amelia Earhart, and for the first few months that i gave talks to groups i started those talks with tell me what you know. most people only know just a few of her flying accomplishments. even myself as a woman pilot i knew most of the records she set -not all. and i think very few know her as a person. very few people remember the message she tried to communicate we can be inspired by her accomplishments, but people don't listen to what she was saying any longer. that has really been lost -and that is what we are trying to remind people of with the project. 15:01
15:02 AC -tell me again what your own message is -what is your message?
15:06 LF -that people don't have to live wlin limits. that people don't have to live small lives. that if you can believe in yourself and believe in your dreams you can have whatever you want.1S:16
AC -about John Rogers .....???? .......
15:39 ...you will be taking off from the united states, Miami ... around the first of April, and what is going to be on your mind then just as you will be leaving the united states?
15:55 LF -well, we have a long way to go very quickly. one of my biggest concerns is that we do complete the flight before the kids get out of school so they can follow us on the entire trip. and the first 6 or 8 legs we are going to fly almost everyday. so when we leave Miami it is going to be all the way across South America will be a really busy time to get to each of those spots. it will also be our first flights over water with the aircraft and there are some big areas of water just btwn Miami and San Juan when you are going in a little airplane going 150 miles an hour. 16:29 16:43 -there is one other thing too ... i think when we finally begin the flight -that one thing is that i will feel that we did it. that we got the airplane to fly and we got the flight done -certainly more so when we get done, but even starting the flight is just to get it ready to go and to get there will be certainly an accomplishment for me. 17:08
AC -what do you think happened to Amelia Earhart?
17:13 LF -well, I don't know what happened to Amelia Earhart and neither does anyone else certainly. what -when i am reading a book about Amelia and i get to the point where they talked with her -or the last communications that they heard from her -that is really where i stop reading, and don't have an opinion and don't continue to listen to the opinions, bc i think it just doesn't matter. what does matter is what Amelia did with her life and that is really the focus of our project. 17:37
AC -your plane is going to be taken apart in December and then put back together?
17:46 LF -yes. Amelia, on her first attempt to fly around the world flew to Honolulu, and crashed on take-off. and the gear have discovered in rebuilding the Electra have some pieces in the landing gear that are really pretty scary. they are made of materials -aluminum when i would prefer them to be steel. the part that holds the motors and the gear on are actually aluminum -just in casting. and we are replacing those and some other gear parts with stronger newer materials in order to assure that we don't have the same kind of problems she did. when we fly on that same leg -honolulu to oakland we will be more than 50% over the gross design weight of the aircraft. and we just want to be sure that we have every chance to handle the stress and the additional stresses that will be placed on that gear.
AC -when you say that you will be more than 50% over the gross weight of the aircraft -you mean the aircraft when you take off will be more than 50% heavier than it should be as per the manufacturer.
18:48 -LF -when we take off the airplane should be more than 50% heavier than the manufacturer said it should fly
18:53 -AC -well, that doesn't seem right.
18:55 LF -well, it flew bc we know Amelia did that and she got there and we have some flight tests that show that the airplanes would perform -and airplanes are designed certainly with a safety factor. the dangerous part of that is the first few minutes as we are getting off the ground, and multi-engine crafts .should fly if one engine quits. and certainly at those weights our airplane will not fly if we should loose an engine or have a fuel problem or any kind of issue close to the ground. we do have a dump system and if we are not in just those first few seconds as we get off once we get some altitude we are able to dump the fuel and return to our weight should we have a problem, but there are a few dangerous moments during that take-off. 19:37
19:47 -My name is Linda Finch and I am the pilot for World Flight 1997
20:40 I am Linda Finch and I am the pilot for World Flight 1997 which is the recreation and completion of Amelia Earhart's flight around the world. 20:48
end of DAT