Amelia Earhart’s Plane – The Electra

Earhart became the careers advisor for women at Purdue University in 1935.

The Lockheed Electra used for the World Flight was funded by the university at a cost of $80,000, and it was to be a ‘flying laboratory’. The plane was one of two Lockheed Electra Model 10-E Specials – a 10-E specially modified for long distance flying, with the passenger seats in the cabin removed and replaced by fuel tanks. With 12 due tanks Earhart’s plane had a fuel capacity of 1,150 gallons and a theoretical range of 4,000 miles. With the Bureau of Commerce number NR16020, it was delivered to Earhart on her 39th birthday, 24th July 1936.

The Lockheed Electra was the first all-metal plane, designed as a 10-passenger commercial transport plane and Amelia’s modified Electra was one of two 10-E Specials. The sister plane of Amelia’s was the ‘Daily Express’ which was used for the first commercial trans-Atlantic flight, taking footage of the Hindenburg disaster to England and bringing footage of the Coronation of King George VI back to the States. It was an advanced aircraft for the time with variable pitch propellers and retractable landing gear, and Amelia’s had a Bendix radio direction finder with a loop coupler above the cockpit, and a Western Electric transmitter. The cabin windows were blacked out and in the back of the plane a navigation station was added along with a special window for Amelia’s navigator to use celestial navigation.