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Earhart Emulator Completes Flight Around the World

May 29, 1997| From Associated Press

OAKLAND — Following her own "yellow brick road in the sky," Texas pilot Linda Finch touched down at Oakland International Airport on Wednesday, ending a 2 1/2-month round-the-world flight Amelia Earhart couldn't complete 60 years ago.

Finch, a 46-year-old San Antonio businesswoman, landed her gleaming twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10-E at 9:23 a.m. after flying the little plane almost 26,000 miles around the equator.

"I feel a little bit like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz," she said to a cheering crowd, many of whom were schoolchildren on field trips. "I followed my own yellow brick road in the sky, visiting many wonderful countries. But this, for me, is the most wonderful of all."

"I was touched by how many people shared their dreams with me," she added. "I hope World Flight gave them a little more wind beneath their wings."

A stiff breeze blew as Finch climbed from the plane, wearing a tan flight suit and looking remarkably alert despite flying for almost 16 hours after her Tuesday departure from Honolulu. She waved and beamed at the hundreds of people gathered to watch her end the flight she had begun on the same field March 17.

Once Finch reached the elevated speaker's platform, she sat patiently as others spoke of her adventure, waving to the crowd and nuzzling her adopted 2-year-old daughter, Katie. Her 28-year-old daughter, Julie Cordera, also sat next to her.

Finch said she considered the 2,400-mile final leg the most dangerous because the plane had to be overloaded with fuel to deal with possible head winds over the Pacific.

Like Earhart, Finch also had a navigator on board to help plot her course. The job was shared by a number of people who traded off at stops along the way.

Finch's plane is the same model Earhart used in her ill-fated 1937 bid to circumnavigate the world around the equator.

Earhart, who was trying to become the first person to fly around the equator, mysteriously disappeared on her way to Howland Island in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937.

"When I left, I thought Amelia was primarily a role model for young women in this country," Finch said. "Now I realize she's admired and respected by nearly everyone, everywhere I went."

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