Lockheed Electra 1055 was a specially modified Electra 10E, delivered to a special person on her 39th birthday, July 24, 1936, registration NR16020. Thanks to funding from Purdue University, Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E was called a "flying laboratory." The passenger seats had been removed and were replaced by gasoline tanks giving the aircraft a total fuel capacity of 1,150 gallons and an increased range of 4,000-4,500 miles. Using the Electra, Amelia hoped to accomplish a feat no one, man or woman, had ever accomplished - a flight around the world at the equator. World flights had been accomplished before but only in the northern hemisphere; a flight around the Equator meant circling the globe at its widest point and would include a dangerous overwater crossing of the Pacific. The original plan, when Amelia took off on March 17, 1937, was to fly from California and head west; stopping in Hawaii, then to Howland Island, New Guinea, Australia, through Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and then back up to the United States. However, plans changed when the Electra ground-looped while taking off from Hawaii on March 20, 1937; the Electra was shipped back to California where it was rebuilt over the next two months. By May 1937 the aircraft was ready to go again; however, due to changing weather patterns the flight had to be reversed which meant the dangerous flight to Howland Island would be the last leg of the flight. On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Miami, Florida, "bound for California by about the longest route we could contrive." The Electra flew down through South America, across the Atlantic to Africa, across Africa to India, down through southeast Asia, Australia and finally Lae, New Guinea. July 2, 1937, almost a month since the takeoff from Miami, Amelia and Fred took off for the flight to Howland Island. The Electra and its crew never reached Howland Island; the disappearance of Amelia, Fred, and the Electra has continued to intrigue the world for generations.
An outline of fuel modifications that would be made on AE's Electra (Purdue University Archives)
Amelia and her Electra during its construction at Burbank, California (Purdue University Archives)
A great shot of Earhart with the fuel tanks installed in her Electra. It gives a great idea how much room these added tanks took up.
Amelia at the controls of her brand new Lockheed Electra 10E (Purdue University Archives)
A proud Amelia along with her Electra, delivered on her 39th birthday - July 24, 1936 (Purdue University Archives)