EL CAJON -- It’s a journey many have begun but none have ever completed, not even the great Amelia Earhart.
“I told myself a very long time ago I wanted to finish the flight for her,” said Grace McGuire of El Cajon.
It is still very much a mystery how the plane flown by Amelia Earhart and co-pilot Fred Noonan, a 1935 twin engine Lockhead Electra L10-E, disappeared during one of the trip’s last legs over the South Pacific, as they attempted to fly around the world.
“There have been several commemorate flights, but never an exact duplication, using the same type of aircraft as Amelia’s,” said McGuire who’s planning on completing Earhart’s failed flight on the same type aircraft, “it’s the only L10-E in the world.”
McGuire found the plane, which was part of the Pan American Airways South American Fleet in the 1930’s, during a trip to Florida more than 20 years ago, “She was quite a mess,” she recalled.
It’s taken several long years, and the pilot’s life long savings to refurbish the antique aircraft, using only original parts, “if you’re not going to do it the old fashion way, why bother,” stressed McGuire.
The El Cajon pilot not only shares a passion for aviation with the legendary Earhart. Even though she denies it, she’s been told she has a close resemblance to her pilot idol, “It was after my third flying lesson, three old timers came to me and one of them said you look like Amelia; And I said Amelia who?”
McGuire says it was after learning about Earhart’s failed attempt to fly around the world when she quickly set what’s become her number one goal in life, which unexpectedly came to a halt soon after she got her L10-E, “I was so close and then almost lost it when I got sick with Lyme disease.”
McGuire says it took her years to recover and now that she’s taken up her dream once again, she’s faced criticism, “Some friends have said Grace, what are you doing?”
The determined pilot, who didn’t share her exact age, has already mapped out her flight, which she says will be slightly different to Earhart’s.
“She was given the wrong coordinates,” explained McGuire who said that after years of research she’s convinced Earhart was misguided and was never able to find where she planned to land.
McGuire, who’s currently putting the finishing touches on her plane, said the earliest she will able to begin her journey will be December of this year, but that’s only if she’s able to get enough sponsorship for the trip, estimated to cost roughly 7 million dollars.
To find out more about the McGuire and her flight plans, you can look up the El Cajon pilot’s page on Facebook using her aircraft identification, N 1602 D-Destiny.