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Ham’s Project Amelia Earhart Flight Nears End


The Amelia Earhart commemorative round-the-world flight by pilot Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN, has begun heading over the Pacific Ocean, landing first on July 23 at Pago Pago in American Samoa, and then in Hawaii via a symbolic flyover of Howland Island. Lloyd has contacted hundreds of other radio amateurs from Spirit, his Mooney M20K 231, with expanded fuel capacity and modern avionics gear. Lloyd’s “Project Amelia Earhart” — funded by The Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum and other donations — is retracing the route taken by the famous aviator in June 1937.

Lloyd predicted that the next stage, over the Pacific to the Continental US, would be the most difficult leg of the trip and would “push both the plane and me to the limit of our abilities.” He explained that the single-engine propeller-driven Spirit was fully fueled to include 3 hours reserve flying time, since “there are scant alternatives should problems mount up for any reason.”

Earlier in his flight, Lloyd experienced alternator problems and a fuel vapor-lock scare that caused him to turn back to New Zealand, plus adverse weather with fierce winds, blasting sandstorms, severe tropical conditions, thunder snow, and high-altitude ice.

After leaving Pago Pago just before sunrise, with what turned out to be a bit more than 17 hours of flying ahead, was a planned flyover of Howland Island, dropping a floral wreath where Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan are believed to have tried to land. Lloyd landed on July 25 at Honolulu.

“Yesterday’s flight was quite long,” Lloyd commented in his log. “I was ready for it to be over and I was barely halfway.”

Before heading off to fly over the Pacific Ocean to Oakland California, and then to the Amelia Earhart Museum in Atchison Kansas, Lloyd also made stops at Lihue and Hilo, Hawaii.

“My respect for Amelia Earhart has risen 1000% now that I have flown 20,000 miles in her shoes,” Lloyd reflected. “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.”

The epic flight, which has included stops at some 20 countries, began on June 1. Lloyd is expecting to return to his home airfield, Kestrel Airpark in Texas, on July 30. — Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC