Tag Archives: Around-The-World-Flight

12 June 1937

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 at El Fasher, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 12 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

12 June 1937: Leg 14. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan fly the Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, from Fort-Lamy in French Equatorial Africa, to El Fasher, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a distance of 609 nautical miles (701 statute miles/1,129 kilometers). A leak in one of the Electra’s landing gear struts took several hours to deal with.

Because of the late start we made the objective of that day’s flight El Fasher, in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. With a following wind we negotiated the journey to something over three hours. As expected, thanks to the day’s heat, which caught up to us, it was particularly bumpy flying, with a particularly desolate region below us.” —Amelia Earhart

Great Circle route from Fort-Lamy, French Equatorial Africa, to El-Fasher, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 609 nautical miles (701 statute miles/1,129 kilometers). (Great Circle Mapper)
Amelia Earhart’s route for the first 12 days of her around-the-world flight, 9,866 nautical miles (11,354 statute miles/18,272 kilometers). (Great Circle Mapper)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 June–4 August 1971

Sheila Scott on the wing of her Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D, Mythre, G-AYTO, 1971. (NASA)
Sheila Scott on the wing of her Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D, Mythre, G-AYTO, 1971. (NASA)

11 June 1971: Sheila Scott O.B.E. (née Sheila Christine Hopkins) departed Nairobi, Kenya, on her third solo around-the-world flight. On this flight she used a new airplane, a twin-engine Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D which she named Mythre. It carried United Kingdom registration G-AYTO. Scott used a NASA navigation and locator communication system to constantly relay her position to a Nimbus weather satellite, and from there to a ground station.

Sheila Scott's Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D, G-ATYO. Mythre.
Sheila Scott’s Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D, G-ATYO, Mythre, at Kidlington Airport, Oxfordshire, England, 1971. (Tim R. Badham)

Sheila Scott planned to not only fly around the world, but to fly from the Equator, over the North Pole, and back to the Equator again. She flew her Aztec from London, England, to Nairobi, Kenya, where she began the Equator–North Pole–Equator portion of the flight.

Scott took off from Nairobi on 11 June 1971 and headed northward to Khartoum, Sudan; Bengazi, Libya; Malta; arriving back at London on 21 June. From there she continued to Bodø, Norway; Andøya, Norway; Station Nord, Greenland; across the North Pole on 28 June; then southward to Barrow, Alaska; arriving at Anchorage, Alaska, on 3 July; San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, on 11 July. She recrossed the Equator heading south to Canton Island. On 23 July, Mythre arrived at Nadi, Viti Levu, Fiji, and then flew on to Noumea, New Caledonia. After a stop at Townsville, Queensland, Scott arrived at Darwin, Northern Teritory, Australia, 1 August. From there she continued to Singapore; Madras, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Bahrain; Athens, Greece; and finally completed her journey at London on 4 August. The trip took 55 days.

During the circumnavigation, Sheila Scott set seven Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Speed Over a Recognized Course: Andøya, Norway, to Station Nord, Greenland, 213.61 kilometers per hour (132.73 miles per hour) ¹; Nord to Barrow, Alaska, 183.73 km/h (114.16 mph) ²; San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, 236.56 km/h (146.99 mph) ³; Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, to London, England, 160.19 km/h (99.54mph). ⁴ Three of these records remain current. ⁵

Ms. Scott’s airplane was a 1971 Piper 23-250 Aztec (“Aztec D”), serial number 27-4568. The airplane was assigned the United Kingdom registration G-AYTO on 3 March 1971. The Aztec D was a six-place twin-engine light airplane based on the earlier PA-23-235 Apache, with a larger cabin and more powerful engines. It was of all-metal construction and had retractable tricycle landing gear. The Aztec D is 31 feet, 2.625 inches (9.516 meters) long with a wingspan of 37 feet, 1.750 inches (11.322 meters) and overall height of 10 feet, 3.875 inches (3.146 meters). The wing has 5° dihedral. The Aztec D has an empty weight of 3,042 pounds (1,380 kilograms) and a gross weight of 5,200 pounds (2,359 kilograms).

The Aztec D is powered by two air-cooled, fuel-injected, 541.511-cubic-inch-displacement (8.874 liter) AVCO Lycoming IO-540-C4B5 6-cylinder, horizontally-opposed, direct-drive engines. The -C4B5 has a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and a Maximum Continuous Power/Takeoff rating of 250 horsepower at 2,575 r.p.m. It weighs 374 pounds (170 kilograms). The engines drive two-bladed Hartzell constant-speed propellers with a diameter of 6 feet, 2 inches (1.880 meters).

The PA-23-250 Aztec D has a maximum structural cruising speed (VNO) of 172 knots (198 miles per hour/319 kilometers per hour) at 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) and maximum speed (VNE) of 216 knots 249 miles per hour (400 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 19,800 feet (6,035 meters). With standard fuel capacity of 144 gallons (545 liters) the airplane’s range is 1,055 miles (1,698 kilometers). Mythre carried an auxiliary fuel tank in the passenger cabin.

After the around-the-world flight, Scott returned Mythre to the Piper Aircraft Company at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, for overhaul. Following Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972, the Piper factory was flooded to a depth of 16 feet (4.9 meters) and Scott’s airplane, along with many others and much of the tooling for aircraft manufacture, was destroyed.

Sheila Scott's Piper Aztec, Mythre, over the North Pole, by Paul Couper, 2008
“Sheila Scott over the Top—Piper Aztec,” by Paul Couper, Guild of Aviation Artists, 2008. 62 × 52 centimeters, oil/acrylic.

This painting is available from the Guild of Aviation Artists at:

http://www.gava.org.uk/index.php?option=com_phocagallery&searchterm=Paul%20Couper&view=category&id=12&Itemid=534&picsearch=simple

¹ FAI Record File Numbers 4622, 4623

² FAI Record File Number 14203

³ FAI Record File Numbers 4626, 4627

⁴ FAI Record File Numbers 4624, 4625

⁵ FAI Record File Numbers 4622, 4626, 14203

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 June 1937

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 in Africa. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

11 June 1937: Leg 13. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan flew the Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, from Gao, French Sudan, to Fort-Lamy, French Equatorial Africa, a distance of 910 nautical miles (1,047 statute miles/1,685 kilometers), landing at 1:55 p.m. G.M.T.

“As usual, our arising at Gao was before dawn, a start made notable by a marvelous breakfast, whose chief d’oeuvre was a mushroom omelet supplemented with cups of fine French chocolate. Thence our revised route took us to Fort Lamy about a thousand miles away. On this day’s flying to Lamy and the next, we crossed stretches of country barren beyond words, a no-man’s land of eternal want, where the natives cling tenaciously to an existence almost incomprehensible to westerners. . . .”  —Amelia Earhart

Great Circle route from Gao, French Sudan, to Fort-Lamy, French Equatorial Africa, 910 nautical miles (1,047 statute miles/1,685 kilometers). Great Circle Mapper)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 June 1937

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, at Gao, French Sudan (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

10 June 1937: Leg 12. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan flew their Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, from Dakar, French West Africa, to Gao, French Sudan, a distance of 1,016 nautical miles (1,169 miles/1,882 kilometers), in 7 hours, 55 minutes. They landed at 14:50 GMT. They informed local officials that they would remain over night and continue on their Around-the-World flight the following day.

Weather reports at the Dakar air field were not altogether encouraging. There were barometric lows threatening tornadoes, or their local equivalent, in the Sudanese region through which our route lay. So, instead of going to Niamey as at first planned, on the advice of Colonel Tabera, I decided to shift the course slightly to the north, making our objective Gao on the upper reaches of the River Niger. Just before six o’clock we were in the air and seven hours and fifty minutes later came down at Gao in the French Sudan. . . Our course from the coast inland over the Senegal and Niger districts lay almost exactly due east. Loafing along at a trifle under 150 miles an hour, the 1,140 mile journey ended pleasantly in the early afternoon.”Amelia Earhart

Great Circle route from Dakar, Senegal, to Gao, Mali, 1,016 nautical miles (1,169 statute miles/1,882 kilometers) (Great Circle Mapper)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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8 June 1937

Reception for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan at Dakar, French West Africa. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

8 June 1937: Leg 11. After landing at Saint-Louis, French West Africa, the previous evening, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan reposition the Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, to Dakar, their intended destination. They lay over until 10 June for rest and maintenance on the airplane.

“On the morning of June 8 we flew the 163 miles from St. Louis. The chief reason I decided to lay over a day at Dakar instead of proceeding east was because my fuelmeter gave out two hours after we left Natal. The very efficient chief mechanic at Dakar discovered that a piece of the shaft was broken. While he worked on that – a difficult job to manage from a blueprint printed in English, which he did not understand, in an aeroplane he did not know – I had a forty-hour check of the engines, probably all they would need until we reached Karachi.” —Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 being serviced at Dakar, French West Africa. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)
Straight line distance Saint-Louis to Dakar, French West Africa: 112.16 miles (180.5 kilometers). (Google Maps)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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