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Project Amelia Earhart flight nears its end

Date : 26 / 07 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

The commemorative Amelia Earhart around the world flight by pilot Brian Lloyd WB6RQN crossed the Pacific Ocean, landing first at Pago Pago in American Samoa, then Hawaii via a symbolic flyover of Howland Island. The Mooney M20K 231 registration number N916BL named ‘Spirit’ has expanded fuel capacity, modern satellite avionics gear, and a Ham radio transceiver enabling WB6RQN Aeronautical Mobile to talk to hundreds of radio amateurs. At Pago Pago (July 23) he was greeted by a news reporter for an interview, then got the latest weather information, with Ellie from the National Weather Service finishing her shift and taking him to a downtown restaurant for a meal of Samoan Oka (rockfish).

Brian WB6RQN said the next stage was the hardest leg of the trip that was going to "push both the plane and me to the limit of our abilities". He explained that the single engine propeller driven 'Spirit' was fully fuelled including three hours flying time of reserve fuel because "there are scant alternatives should problems mount up for any reason". Earlier the flight had magneto problems, a fuel vapouring scare that caused him to turn back to New Zealand, not to mention adverse weather with fierce winds, blasting sandstorms, severe tropical conditions, thunder snow and high altitude ice. After leaving Pago Pago just before sunrise with about 19 hours ahead there was the planned flyover of Howland Island dropping a floral wreath where Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan tried unsuccessfully to land.

Brian WB6RQN in reflection said: "My respect for Amelia Earhart has risen a thousand per cent now that I have flown 20,000 miles in her shoes. I am talking about flying the plane and dealing with the issues that come up as part of the flight. She was the sole pilot in her plane as I am with mine. Speeds are comparable and I have had to deal with the same weather she did."

Project Amelia Earhart funded by The Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum and other donations retraces the route taken by the famous aviator in June 1937. Brian WB6RQN then headed for Hawaii to land at the Honolulu International Airport (July 25). After an overnight stay he took off again (July 26) passing over the historic Pearl Harbor sites on his final flight over the Pacific Ocean to Oakland California, then to the Amelia Earhart Museum in Atchison Kansas.

The epic flight taking in about 20 countries began on June 1, was to end at Kestrel Airpark Texas on July 30, which is the pilot’s starting point and his home airfield.


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