Tag Archives: San Juan

2 June 1937

Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart board the Electra at San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2 June 1937. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

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.

—Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is greeted on her arrival at Caripito, Venezuela, 2 June 1937.
Great Circle route from Isla Grande Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Maturin, Venezuela, location of the closest existing airport to Caripito. 548 nautical miles (630 statute miles/1,014 kilometers). (Great Circle Mapper)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 June 1937

Amelia Earhart, in the cockpit of her Electra, with George Palmer Putnam, at Miami, 1 June 1937. (Wichita Eagle/Associated Press)
Amelia Earhart in the cockpit of her Electra with George Palmer Putnam, at Miami, 1 June 1937. (Wichita Eagle/Associated Press)

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.

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Model 10E Electra, NR16020, just prior to departure, Miami, Florida, 1 June 1937. Note that teh Electra's rear window has been replaced by aluminum sheet. (Miami Herald)
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10E Electra, NR16020, just prior to departure, Miami, Florida, 1 June 1937. Note that the Electra’s rear window has been replaced by sheet aluminum. (Miami Herald)

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.”

—Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, taking off at Miami, Florida, 1 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)
Great Circle route between Miami Airport, Florida, and Isla Grande Airport (now known as Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport), San Juan, Puerto Rico, 903 nautical miles. (Great Circle Mapper).

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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