6 June 1937: Leg 9. After a one-day layover at Fortaleza, Brazil, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan flew 267 miles (429 kilometers) to Natal and readied for their trans-Atlantic crossing the following day.
“We got into the air at 4:50 a.m. and arrived at Natal at 6:44, so our day’s work was done almost before conventional breakfast time. However, we had wanted to reach Natal early, on the chance we might start thence across the South Atlantic that evening.”
4 June 1937: On Leg 8 of their around-the-world flight, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, fly the Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, from Paramaribo, Nederlands Guiana (today, Suriname), to Fortaleza, Brazil, a distance of 1,330 miles (2,141 kilometers). They stay there to rest for a day.
“The weather at Paramaribo was perfect except for a morning mist from the Surinam River, when we took off to skim the tree-tops and then pull up. Speaking of trees, we had plenty of them on this jump to Fortaleza in Brazil – trees and water. During the day we flew over 960 miles of jungle, added to hops of 370 miles by compass course over open sea, a total of 1,330 miles, or a trifle more than half the transcontinental distance between New York and Los Angeles. . . After about ten hours’ flying I was glad to see Fortaleza sitting just where it should be, according to the maps, between the mountains and the sea, on a brown, sandy plain, in the arc of a crescent-shaped indentation just west of Cape Mucuripe. . . Fortaleza is a town of 100,000 people, a potent metropolis whose name few of us in North America have even heard. In my own ignorance I had thought of Natal as a more important place. That, of course, because Natal figures so largely in aviation matters. Fortaleza’s airport was so fine we decided to make final preparations for the South Atlantic hop there rather than at Natal, the actual jumping-off place for that much-flown stretch. . . .”
3 June 1937: Leg 7. Amelia flew her Electra from Caripito, Venezuela, to Paramaribo, Nederlands Guiana, a distance of 615 miles (990 kilometers). She arrived at 12:50 p.m., local time.
Rain clouds hung thick about Caripito as we left on the morning of June third. We flew over jungles to the coast, and then played hide-and-seek with showers until I decided I had better forgo the scenery, such as it was, and climb up through the clouds into fair weather. An altitude of 5,000 feet topped all but the highest woolly pinnacles. . . Soon we saw the river Surinam, a silver streak meandering to the coast, a wide tidal stream full of floating green islands of small trees and water plants, and bordered with vast stretches of mud. Twelve miles from its mouth is Paramaribo, capital of Dutch Guiana, and twenty-five miles further inland the airport. . . No make-shift airport this, but one of the best natural landing areas I have ever seen. . . . —Amelia Earhart
2 June 1937: After an overnight stay at San Juan, Puerto Rico, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan continued on Leg 6 of their around-the-world flight, to Caripito, Venezuela, approximately 611 miles (984 kilometers) southeast. They arrived at 1:18 p.m., local time.
“I rolled out of bed at a quarter of four in the morning, hoping to make a dawn take-off from San Juan, but actually the Electra did not lift her wheels from the runway until nearly seven o’clock, with the sun well above the horizon. . . I flew at 8,000 feet most of the way, bucking head winds of probably thirty miles an hour. . . The coast of Venezuela in the hazy distance was my first glimpse of South America. As we drew near I saw densely wooded mountains and between them wide valleys of open plains and jungle. I had never seen a jungle before. . . close-knit tropic jungles are in a pilot’s eyes about the least desirable of all possible landing places. . . A muddy river wound through the mountain pass we followed, a reddish-brown snake crawling among tight-packed greenery. A few miles inland lay the red-roofed town of Caripito, with squat oil tanks on the outskirts. There was a splendid airfield, with paved runways and a well-equipped hangar. It is managed jointly by Pan American Airways and the Standard Oil Company.“
1 June 1937: After a takeoff accident at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, on 20 March 1937 ended Amelia Earhart’s first attempt to fly around the world, her damaged Lockheed Electra 10E was shipped to Lockheed at Burbank, California, for extensive repairs.
When the airplane was once again ready, she and her husband, George Palmer Putnam, navigator Fred Noonan and aircraft mechanic Ruckins D. “Bo” McKinney had flown the Electra from Burbank to Oakland to restart the around-the-world flight, this time heading eastward because of seasonal changes in worldwide weather patterns.
With overnight stops at Burbank, Tucson, and New Orleans, they arrived at Miami, Florida on 24 May. The cross-country flight was not publicly announced, and considered a “shake down” following the repairs.
With most of the problems that came up resolved, Earhart and Noonan were finally ready to go. The press was notified, the Electra refueled, and they departed Miami for Isla Grande Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 903 nautical miles (1,039 miles/1,673 kilometers) across the Caribbean Sea, and their Flight Into History.
“I closed and fastened the hatch . . . Then I started the motors. The engines had already been well warmed so now after appraising for a moment their full-throated smooth song, I signaled to have the wheel chocks removed and we taxied to the end of the runway in the far southeast corner of the field. Thirty seconds later, with comforting ease, we were in the air and on our way.”