24 June 1937: Leg 24a, 24b. After three days of maintenance and repair work on her Lockheed Electra at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, Amelia Earhart started warming up her engines at 3:45 a.m. in preparation for a long transoceanic flight to Darwin, Australia.
However, problems with an instrument delayed the takeoff until 2:00 p.m., making Darwin much too far away. They didn’t want to arrive there during hours of darkness. If Fred Noonan’s navigation was slightly off after a long over water flight during darkness, they might not find the small airport.
Instead, they made a short hop to Batavia (now known as Jakarta) and from there, continued on to Soerabaya for a total distance for the day of 355 miles (571.3 kilometers).
“After that late start we reached Soerabaya when the descending sun marked declining day. In the air, and afterward, we found that our mechanical troubles had not been cured. Certain further adjustments of faulty long-distance flying instruments were necessary, and so I had to do one of the most difficult things I had ever done in aviation. Instead of keeping on I turned back the next day to Bandoeng.“ —Amelia Earhart
22–24 June 1937: Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, undergoes maintenace at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, while Amelia and Fred Noonan visit a volcano.
“I went for an inspection trip myself. My first objective was an active volcano, to the crater rim of which one can drive in half an hour up a beautiful mountain road. . . At 5,000 feet the trees began to dwarf and the vegetation became less dense. At 6,500, only scrub trees which bred in and soil persisted. I could smell sulfur fumes for some time before rounding the last curve leading to the lower edge of the pit. Hundreds of feet below, emerald water had collected in a pool at the bottom. Here and there jets of yellow-white steam issued from crevices. . . .”—Amelia Earhart
21 June 1937: Leg 23. Singapore, Straits Settlements to Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies.
“From Singapore early in the morning, we headed for Java. Our course first lay over the open sea, then along the westerly shores of Sumatra, finally cutting deep across its southeast portion. In the first hour of flying we crossed the equator for the third time in our air voyage and definitely passed ‘down under’ into the nether world of Australasia. . .
“The landscapes of the southern hemisphere were beautiful to look upon. . . countless tiny islands, glowing emeralds in settings of turquoise. . . narrow ribbons of beach, separating the deeper green of their verdure from the exquisite turquoise tones that mark the surrounding shallow water, which in turn merge into darker blue as the waters deepen. . .
“After my plane had been comfortably put in its hangar and K.N.I.L.M. (a local organization, sister company to Netherlands Airline, famed K.L.M.) mechanics had begun their inspection.” —Amelia Earhart
20 June 1937: Leg 22. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan fly the Electra from Rangoon to Bangkok then on to Singapore.
“Moist clouds were our companions as we left Rangoon the next morning, bound for Bangkok, Siam. First, we crossed the upper reaches of the Gulf of Martaban, flying over Moulmein. . . A great range of mountains extends north and south along the western border of Siam, separating it from the long arm of Burma that reaches down into the Malay Peninsula. Through squally weather we climbed to 8,000 feet and more, topping this mountain barrier. On its eastern flanks the clouds broke and there stretched before us a dark green forest splashed with patches of bright color, cheerful even in the eyes of a pilot who recognized in all the limitless view no landing place. The country fell away gradually to the east, the hills flattening out into heavy jungle. Then we crossed the Mei Khlaung River, with little villages scattered along its banks, the wide expanses of irrigated land burdened with rice crops.
“Bangkok itself lies in a vast plain with mountains in the distant background. . . After refueling at Bangkok (the airport was one of the best we encountered) we started for Singapore, more than 900 miles away. . . Though we did not sight them, there were two transport planes that day on the same route which we flew. The Imperial Airways machine left Rangoon first and the K.L.M. Douglas at daybreak. Our Wasp-motored Lockheed left fifteen minutes later. All stopped at Bangkok, then followed different courses to Singapore. We arrived there first, at 5:25 P.M. local time, because we cut straight and did not stop along the way.” —Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart was a beautiful writer. Her notes are full of color and texture. She describes the land and the sea and the sky, the towns and cities and the people. Her descriptions bring all of these to life.