Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The last known airplane identical to the one in which aviatrix Amelia ...

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The last known airplane identical to the one in which aviatrix Amelia ...

Article excerpt

The last known airplane identical to the one in which aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, flew in their attempt to circle the globe has found a new home in Earhart's birthplace.

The Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation recently purchased the restored 1935 Lockheed Electra L-10E, named "Muriel," from Grace McGuire. In mid-August, Muriel began the journey from El Cajon, Calif., traveling through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to arrive in Atchison on Aug. 22.

Foundation director Karen Seaberg said hundreds of people lined Muriel's route through Atchison, which concluded with a ceremony at Amelia Earhart Airport.

"She actually got to go by all of the grade schools, so almost every child from kindergarten to sixth or seventh grade got to see her, so that was exciting," Seaberg said.

The remainder of the week was spent reattaching Muriel's wings and fins, she said, in an Atchison contractor's hangar. The foundation is seeking funds to build Muriel her own hangar, which will house an interactive museum.

"She's huge," Seaberg said. "We looked at her with the wings on and she's almost a 60-foot wingspan."

In the meantime, Muriel will remain in her borrowed hangar, though she will be on display for visitors by appointment and on special occasions. Seaberg said the next such opportunity will be Sept. 24-25, when the airport will host a fly-in.

McGuire, who originally is from Scotland, is a certified airplane mechanic who restored and cared for the plane for 34 years. When McGuire was a teenager living in New Jersey, Seaberg said, Earhart's mechanic, Ed Gorski, saw her at an air show and told her she looked like Amelia Earhart. At that time, McGuire didn't even know who Earhart was.

The following year, McGuire portrayed Earhart at the air show. She became close to Earhart's younger sister, Muriel, and when she found the last remaining L-10E with the intention of recreating Amelia's final flight, she named the plane after her friend.

Only 14 L-10Es were built, and those were impressed into U.S. military service and retrofitted for use along with all other twin- engine planes during World War II -- a fate Muriel escaped, Seaberg said, because she was being used for commercial flights in Brazil by Pan American Airways. …

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