|Our flight re-creation followed exactly in Amelia Earharts footsteps. You may read about the flight here and order flight merchandise at the "Flight Store". Be sure to check out our new flight T-shirts!|
When Amelia returned from being the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air, she wrote a book about it called 20 Hrs., 40 Min.. When she was finished with the book in August of 1928, her thoughts had immediately turned to her vacation plans. As she put it, Clearly, it was time to get into the air again. For the moment all I wished to do in the world was to be a vagabond in the air. If she had any destination, it was to be in Los Angeles for the end of the National Air Races and, though she did not realize it until later, she also set a record; to be the first woman to fly solo across the continent and back.
Amelia Vagabonds By Air Across the United States.
By the way, we are producing a video on the flight re-creation. Go to the "Follow the Flight" posting area to see how you can be be notified when the viedo is ready.
Amelias adventures across the United States began from Rye, New York on Friday morning August 31, 1928. She lifted off from the polo field at 9:52 am accompanied on the first two legs by her non-pilot publisher, George Putnam. Her diary reads, Oil & gas: 270 lbs.; passenger: 160 lbs.; pilot: 130 lbs.; baggage 50 lbs. From Rye she flew to the airmail field of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. In her own words:
We crossed the Hudson River, went a little south of course. Initially at 2,500 then up to 8,500 for smooth air. Head wind all the way to Sunbury. Initially went past Bellefonte (1:55 pm) but decided to return to mail field. Circled the valley for field, landed 2:20 pm
Amelia refueled and flew on to Pittsburgh, arriving at 6:15 pm. After a perfect landing at Rogers field, which was then essentially a cow pasture, they hit a hidden ditch revealing the weakness of the Avian IIs landing gear. The gear collapsed, the plane went up on its nose, and the next day and a half were spent in a herculean effort the get the Avian flying again as soon as possible. Two days prior, George had leaked the word to the press of Amelias trip. This, combined with the unfortunate accident, drew intense newspaper coverage that Amelia found hard to shake for the rest of the trip.
The Avian was repaired in record time and on Sunday, September 2, 1928 at 12:40 pm they left Pittsburgh for Dayton, arriving at the armys Wright Field (now Wright/Patt Air Force Base) at 4:40 pm. That evening, George Putnam caught the night train back to New York and Amelia was on her own.
The rest of the trip is a wonderful tale of flying during the Golden Age of Aviation in America. It was a time when there were few defined landing fields, particularly as one flew west from the more populous east coast. The maps of the time were designed for automobile use and were inadequate for all but the crudest aerial navigation. If an accident were to occur, parts were few and far between and, at a time when even seeing an airplane remained a novelty, aircraft mechanics in the hinterlands were nearly non-existent.
But Amelia flew on with tenacity and wit. She was quick to make friends and seemed always to be at home wherever she went. It was an idyllic time in America just before the Great Depression, and she enjoyed every minute of it. To tell the full story is beyond the scope if this posting l. We did our very best to re-create it this September and October, every step of the way, when we followed in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart. Wecalled it: Amelia Earharts Flight Across America: Rediscovering a Legend.
Amelia Earharts Flight Across America: Rediscovering a Legend.
Amelias flight re-creation commenced on September 4, 2001. We followed Amelias 5,500-mile route as closely as possible visiting all the same places, staying in the same hotels and even eating the same food. We tried to involve as many people as possible in each community were Amelia stopped, we saw thousands of wellwishers. We even met a number of people who saw Amelia land back in 1928 and they signed the wing of our plane!
We began at the Westchester, New York airport, not far from the original polo fields, and continued to the airmail field at Bellefonte, and then on to Pittsburgh for the night. The next day we went on to Dayton and landed at Wright/Patt Field, today site of the magnificent U.S. Air Force Museum. We even toured the museum, just as Amelia toured the Army hangars of the day, remarking on the magnificent aircraft she saw.
From Dayton proceeded to Terre Haute and stopped to have a lunch of chicken dinner just as Amelia did. And on to the next field where Amelia landed, the Army field at Belleville, Illinois for a huge reception and a dinner partt at the same country club as Amelia. Then its it was off to Muskogees famous Hat Box Field. Up the next morning to Fort Worth and Meacham Field, from which the first airline passenger ever carried out of the state of Texas had departed just a few months earlier.
After refueling at Ft. Worth, we headed due west. On that leg, Amelia notes, About Sweetwater I struck some very bumpy air
I would be carried down for 500 ft with the nose of the plane up as far as I could put it without stalling
My map was torn from my knee and I couldnt save it. Running out of light and unsure of her position, Amelia landed on the main street at what was then a six-month-old boomtown. We too will landed at Hobbs, New Mexico, but not on Main Street!
Up at 6:00 am, breakfast was fried eggs, honey and biscuits after a delay of nearly a week due to the closing of the airspace after the Trade Center tragedy in New York, we continued on the way to Pecos, Texas. The Rotary Club and others honored us with a lunch at the wonderful Pecos museum. The club had Amelia as a guest too. Amelia ended up staying in Pecos for a number of days. Perhaps not coincidentally, her vagabonding seems to have run across a few of the stops of the National Air Races, which were underway at the same time. As an honor to their distinguished guest, the Town of Pecos named Amelia as the towns Official Judge at their stop along the air race route.
Then its on to McNeal, Arizona. Thankfully our engine didnt start missing as hers did. And yes, the McNeal Ladies Aid Society still took us to lunch as they did Amelia in that great little Arizona town. From there it was Tucson, Arizona and then the night at Casa Grande after a great reception and dinner there. Up bright and early the next morning and we were off to Yuma, Arizona and then Glendale, California.
The flight continued after one night in Los Angeles and headed eastward right back on schedule. It was back to New York via Las Vegas, Tintic and Salt Lake City, Utah; Cheyenne, North Platte, Omaha, Chicago, Cleveland, back to Bellefonte and finally home to Westchester County and Rye, New York where we arrived five minutes early!.
It was a great flight - better than we could have ever expected - we hope that have drawn a little more attention to who Amelia Earhart really was, to the things that she stood for and to her messages, which remain every bit as relevant today as the were in the 1920s and 30s.