On the 2nd of July, 1937, a custom-built Lockheed Electra 10E piloted by Amelia Earhart took off from the Lae Airfield in Papua New Guinea. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were planning to reach the small and flat Howland Island later that day. This was the longest over-water leg of the trip and one of the last before completing their flight around the world.
In her last radio transmission, Amelia, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, said they could not locate the island and were running low on fuel. Soon afterwards, the US Navy and Coast Guard initiated the most expensive search operation in U.S. history up to that time, however nothing was found.
Eighty years later, it is still not clear for sure what happened to Earhart and Noonan. A recent History Channel documentary titled “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence”, that was partially filmed at the Yanks Air Museum, suggested that Earhart was captured by the Japanese and died in a prison on Saipan Island. In the special, a metal piece found in 2015 at the Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands is visually matched to a corresponding part of the Yanks’ Lockheed 12-A Electra Junior suggesting it might have come from the similar Lockheed Electra Model 10 that Earhart flew in.
This past weekend visitors to the Yanks Air Museum had a chance to peek inside the Lockheed 12-A Electra Junior featured in the documentary. This was one of the museum’s Open Cockpit Days when a cockpit or a cabin of one of the selected aircraft is available for tours. The museum’s Lockheed EC-121 Constellation is always open during these events and docents are available to answer any questions you might have.