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Interview 3:48 - 26:05 Play 3:48 - More
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Linda Finch  







Lockheed Electra 10A  

Sound Effects 8:44 - 8:52 Play 8:44 - More
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Vintage aircraft control cable  








NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
14 Feb 1997

  • United States
    Shelby County
  • Memphis; Memphis International Airport
  • 35.0425   -89.97667
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo

Linda Finch -Memphis

00:00 -1:28 ambi inside the hangar

3:52 LF -we are in Memphis, and flew here to some of the schools to be able to involve the children and get them really excited about the beginning of our program. yesterday northwest airlines had several hundred children come and visit with us. and then we got to talk to their employees and their line-men and show the airplane off a little bit, and today we are doing a program with NASA and their education initiative. and we are going to be seeing thousands of children in Corinth, Mississippi.

4:22 AC -our recording engineer said that she saw these mechanics just swarming around the plane and they are fascinated by what happens when this plane shows up and what it represents.

LF -oh it was. it was a really exciting afternoon for us bc they are so excited and so involved. allover the airplane and lots of questions about radios and engines. and how the engines leak absolutely no oil, bc we have the only brand new engines. ours are built out of new parts and these engines were manufactured in the '20s and '30s and through 1960 actually. but most of the ones we are used to have been overhauled and rebuilt, and these are just so perfect that they don't have any oil and everybody was astounded.

AC -how is it that you could have new engines? how could they ¬they couldn't have the original -how do they have new engines?

5:15 LF -well, what we did was we found original assemblies or parts from Pratt and Whitney that they manufactured as replacement parts for a nose assemble or a cylinder assembly and then we took them all apart, cleaned them and checked them, and put them back together. we actually manufactured our own engines. 5:31

5:32 AC-how long has it been possible for you to sit here -how long .has the plane been in this kind of condition?

5:43 LF -the plane has only been in this kind of condition a few days. we have all new panels and all of our radios are in for our trip around the world. so, when i first got in it to fly it I had been used to one radio and a very few, minimal instruments that we needed to fly. and now they are just everywhere. it was a little bit astounding to get in such an old plane and see some many instruments that -universal GPS to -that we need for our primary navigation system for around the world is certainly something you don't find in an old airplane...

6:12 AC-but this is how it looks -this is how it is going to feel when you go-

LF -it certainly is. it also getting to finally be comfortable in it -it was a little bit awesome to get in the airplane. it is a different view outside and different to fly -but what has happened now is that it is starting to feel like mine -and where it is supposed to be.

7:07 AC -what do these wheels feel like? these are -i thought planes had yokes or something in them to steer with but these have actually steering wheels. they look like they came out of 1940s British sports cars or something

7:21 LF -exactly, and the wood is so worn. we actually had some new ones that we could have put in but i like these bc they are worn and they have been in the airplane obviously since it was new. the wheels are very different for me. when you fly older airplanes -i have only flown fighters and trainers to fly fighters and so they're single engine planes and they have a stick, and you move that stick. and the wheel when you want to turn it -actually moves a long distance (bg: shifting around so she can move wheel) so you can hear. the wheel when you want to turn it actually moves so far that it was a new sensation that when you get ready to land you have to make sure that your hand is in the middle bc you don't have enough motion to get it all the way around if you are too far to one side.

8:13 AC -let's just listen to this as you pull these wheels around -GOOD AMBI @8:45

8:53 -AC -as you do that -these things are pulling cables back through the airplanes to turn things?

8:58 LF -there is like a little change or linkage down here that goes back down to the cable. it actually turns the cable that is attached to the ????

AC -so this is all human powered controls for turning things and making the airplane fly.

LF -absolutely.

AC -you do it?

LF yes, yes.

9:18 AC -course you are used to flying old airplanes already ¬human powered planes -but for contemporary travelers who fly all over the world in these huge jets, we don't think about human powered flight so much -we don't think about airplanes that work on such an eminent level.

9:39 LF -I get that question frequently. i mean people are very surprised that there is just a thin cable and actually you move the cable. and everyone always says does it have hydraulic controls? absolutely no.

ac -actually these little cables running overhead they control the tail? actually you can see them

LF -the cables that are above us are on another little pulley and they control the rudder trim and the elevator trim. so that while we are climbing instead of having to hold certain pressures to climb or descend or keep your rudder where you want it, it has a little opposite tab, and you can turn-these are much smaller tables than the controls -they operate only that tab, but you can turn these and move that tab and it assists you with the air pressure when the tab sticks out in the air. 10:24

10:31 AC -all your flight controls are original. these are the old systems. the instrumentation is new the communication's gear is new, but these things here -these switches and hand controls those are original on the plane. this is what Amelia Earhart flew.

LF -exactly. there are many things: the controls, the throttle and the propeller, and mixture controls, the fuel selector gages, the gear indicator. but all of the things that have to do with the airplane mechanically that are not just communication and navigation are in fact the same as Amelia had. 11:14

11:20 AC -you must be so eager just to get in the plane and go and you have testing to do and you have a lot of visits that you make with school kids, and you wind up talking to reporters and people who are interested they come around the plane -people outside just kind of standing around and looking at it now. don't you want to go

11:43 LF (laughter) well, in some ways i really wish that day would be here and on others we have so much to do that it is good that it is still many weeks away. but yes, we are all very anxious just to go fly the trip -we are very excited about that -to get to go is something we all are really looking forward to.

12:01 AC are going the next several days to test the plane under these conditions of very great load. heavier¬ considerable heavier than the manufactures specifications. you must be a little concerned about that take-off, although it is something you have to do.

12:26 LF -well what we will do when we do those heavy weight tests is that we add just a little weight at a time. we will do it in 50 or 100 pound increments, and do the take-offs and do other tests in the air to know what stall speeds ae to know what VMC is. it is a minimal controllable speed on a twin engine plane on a single engine. if one engine quits you have to maintain a certain speed through the air or the other engine will flip you over. the airplane will not fly straight. so there are other speeds and other info that we need to know of how the airplane flies. what its new characteristics are with the new heavier weights. but we will add them a little bit at a time. we are not going to certainly go with a 10,500 gross weight limit and take off at 17,000 pounds. we will go to 11 and see what we are doing and then break it up in little parts.

AC-when in the flight are you going to actually be that heavy?

13:19 LF -our heaviest leg in Honolulu to Oakland, which is the last leg of the flight. that we will be
13, 500 -14,000 pounds, which is still significantly over the 10, 500 many time during the flight.

ac -when you say you have to test it at that speed to see where it will stall out, that heavy weight -the implications of that you may find out ¬

LF-well i hope we find out. it is a very important figure. it is something we need to know -absolutely. when the airplane stalls you pull it up until it just stops flying, until there is such little air movement across the wings that it will no longer support the aircraft weight -or the aircraft to fly. so we will need to do that at each of those weights to learn were that it is.

AC-but then what happens?

LF -well then when the nose drops -when it quits flying it starts dropping -it nose-drops through and you add power and it will start flying again right away.

14:22 AC -it will start flying right away but that's -so you say -for me that sounds very scary.

LF -my daughter reminded me -a reporter was interviewing her not too long ago and I was going to take my private pilots test and was practicing with a friend. and we went and did stalls and did all sorts of things with her in the back seat and kinds of steep turns and maneuvers and she actually got quite ill. so i guess i wasn't thinking how that would feel to someone else either. but it is a common thing that you do when you are learning to fly. you do it with every airplane you should know when it is going to stall and how it is going to act. and then you can cope with it and know what is going to happen

AC -you already have your private pilot's license

LF -yes i do. i have had it for about 20 yrs.

AC -you were renewing it -or what?

LF-no, this happened 20 yrs ago.

15:18 AC-what does your daughter think of this -what does your family think when you are setting off to recreate a flight that -Amelia Earhart did not survive.

LF -well, my daughter is very supportive and excited and pleased and is real involved in the project. she takes care of the office and really manages all of the communications. so she gets to receive all of the letters from people that we get and phone calls and comments. i received a donation of $5 from a little girl and the most special letter just last week. and we are all really feeling that and are really excited about that. on the other hand, she is -she is a worrier. so she always worries. So she is most happy that we have our internet connection and will actually be sending the airplane position back on the internet every hour. so i think she will be watching that quite closely to see where we are. 16:14

17:12 -FX -door of plane (1) slams

17:57 -FX -strapping in plane with seat belt, velcro ¬

18:22-19:24 FX -(sounds like winding a clock) getting off battery residue -they recharged the battery and it over flowed ¬the acid came out -so they are cleaning it up before it cause damage:

19:48 LF -(with scrapping FX in bg) want to take these screws out here that are inside those ¬

19L56AC -what are you doinq1

LF -well what we did last night was charged one of the batteries and it overflowed a little bit and so it has acid in the bottom of the airplane right along here and it will corrode this aluminum if we don't qet it cleaned up. so we are just going to wipe it off a little bit.

AC -it is a good thing we came over here ¬

LF -it sure is -that and we had a second grade class

20:28 -AC -your experience with these mechanics yesterday -you are going to be flying around the world some of these airfields you wind up coming to -who are not going to know that you are coming, and you are going to show up in this old airplane and i imagine you are going to have this experience really repeatedly of people just awe-struck, astounded -and transported back in time.

20:57 LF -our airplane was initially bought by Northwest Airlines, and that made it a little bit special too -but one of the things we did yesterday was that we were parked at the gate, where they normally park Northwest Airlines -so that their ground crew could come take a look at this if they could get off work, and they continued to operate. and periodically an airliner would park right next to us and we could see those people look out the window -look again, you know -they could not figure out what was going on here. 21:28

21:29 -21:38 ¬

VG 22:53 ¬

G 23:16-23:37

23:54 FX -opening of COKE can to put on plane

G FX 24:13 spraying COKE on plane

24:19 AC -what is that doing?

Bobbie-it kills the acid. this is -you know has soda in it, and it will stop the corrosion and make a heck of a mess on the floor...

25:20 AC -the engines are so clean Linda (faint) it looks like it had never been flown -it looks like a plane from the Smithsonian.

LF -that's very sweet. that's one of the things that the guys were so surprised at. most radial engines also leak oil just by their design.... they (her engines) have just been great. but we never -no one i have ever been around has ever had the opportunity to have brand new engines before. these are engines that were built in -during WWII -you know that were are used to dealing with and they have been overhauled many many times and even though they are still w/in ??? the parts aren't perfect. but obviously when they came new from the factory they were perfect.

29:49 ambi -in hangar -place of interview

31:07-32:54 ambi w/o interruptions

33:10-34:26 loud cart (?) moving???? machines turned on

FX 34:28

34:40 -ambi -outside of hangar?

34:56 turning on engine?

35:55-36:05 -louder machine

36:26 END OF DAT

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