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Lockheed Electra

Earhart’s model 10E aircraft had numerous upgrades, making it a one-of-a-kind flying machine…


"Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." ~ Amelia Earhart (George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart papers, Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Karnes Archives & Special Collections)

The Lockheed Aircraft Corporation launched its Electra10 10A in 1932 as its first all‐aluminum aircraft, and it included state‐of‐the‐art innovations like variable pitch propellers, retractable landing gear and wing flaps. Building the plane’s surface skin out of aluminum alloy made for a stronger overall plane, because it allowed the skin to share the structural load. It also allowed the plane to be leaner and more aerodynamic in design.

The twin‐engine Electra was designed to establish Lockheed’s line of commercial passenger aircraft, and could accommodate a crew of two and up to 10 passengers. Northwest Airlines was the first airline to use the plane and by the late 1930s, eight U.S. airlines flew the plane as did European, Australian, Canadian and South American customers.

Amelia Earhart’s Electra, designated NR16020, was a modified Lockheed Model 10E with a range of more than 4,000 miles, a cruising speed of approximately 190 miles per hour, and a maximum ceiling pushing over 19,400 feet above sea level. Earhart had numerous modifications made to her 10E to maximize it for long-distance flights. She added more fuel tanks for a total of six in the wings and six in the fuselage, increasing the total carrying capacity to 1,150 gallons of fuel. She also modified the electronic equipment, adding a Western Electric radio and a Bendix radio direction finder—cutting-edge technology at the time. These numerous modifications made Earhart’s Electra a one‐of‐a‐kind aircraft.

Specifications for Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E

Length: 38′ 7″

Height: 10′ 1″

Wingspan: 55′ 0″

Wing area: 458.3 sq. ft.

Empty Weight: 7,100 lbs.

Max Weight: 16,500 lbs., max at takeoff

Engines: Pratt & Whitney WASP R‐1340‐S3H1

Horsepower: 600 Brake Horsepower (take-off) and 550 BHP normal-rated power

Range: ~ 4,000+ miles

Cruise Speed: 190‐194 mph


Electra 10E Drawing (Provided by Elgen M. Long)

Exploring an Electra

Our experts document a close replica of Earhart’s aircraft

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