USA Today writes that America's fascination with legendary pilot Amelia Earhart is never-ending. Her flying accomplishments and her baffling disappearance have intrigued Americans for nearly 80 years.
She was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a feat she accomplished in 1932 before demolishing other flying records and writing best sellers about her adventures. She was a media darling before the term was even coined. Then, on July 2, 1937, three-quarters of the way through a 29,000-mile around-the-world flight, she and navigator Fred Noonan vanished on approach to Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Her plane was never found.
Earhart's namesake and distant relative, Amelia Rose Earhart, is finalizing plans to re-create the legend's final flight.
Next summer, Earhart, 30, a Denver weather and traffic co-anchor, and co-pilot Patrick Carter, a Fayetteville, Ark., businessman and adventurer, will take off from Oakland for a two-week, 100-hour flight that will approximate as closely as possible the original flight. They'll make the trek in a state-of-the-art, $4.6-million, 2014 model PC-12 NG provided by Pilatus Business Aircraft of Broomfield, Colo., one of two principal sponsors.
She is announcing plans for the flight today at the EAA AirVenture 2013 aviation show in Oshkosh, Wis.
Earhart, who took her first flying lesson in June 2004 and earned her instrument rating about two months ago, says she's pumped about the journey – but not nervous. "It's been the most amazing adventure that hasn't even happened yet," says Earhart, who works at the NBC affiliate in Denver, Gannett-owned KUSA 9News. Gannett also owns USA TODAY.
She and Carter — who's 29 and a mountaineer, ultra-marathoner, scuba diver and sailor —just completed eight days of initial training on full-motion simulators in Florida. They trained for everything that could go wrong in flight: engine fire or failure, loss of avionics, control malfunction, loss of pressurization and so on. They simulated landings and takeoffs at airports they'll stop at along the way.
In addition, they have trained on an actual PC-12 NG and will continue to retrain until the flight. "Nothing will be a surprise," Carter says.
The two adventurers say they want to re-create the famous flight as a way to honor and celebrate the legend of Amelia Earhart, to encourage young people – especially girls – to pursue aviation and to inspire people of all ages to pursue their own adventures, whether they're flying-related or not.
"Amelia Earhart said adventure is worthwhile in itself," her namesake says. "I think there's a new focus on adventure that we've only seen in the last five to 10 years. But whatever your version of flying is – it could be starting a business, it could be something entrepreneurial – we want to encourage people to pursue their own adventure."
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