Linda Finch

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Linda Finch
Linda Finch, June 2007.jpg
Finch in June 2007
Born (1951-03-13) March 13, 1951 (age 68)
OccupationAviator, businesswoman, author and spokesperson
F4U Corsair
P-47 Thunderbolt
Amelia Earhart's Electra 10E
Linda Finch's Electra 10E in 2007
Linda Finch's Electra 10E on tarmac for viewing by Finch's admiring public.
Grumman Albatross was Finch's emergency and spare parts plane that traveled with her on the flight around the world in 1997.

Linda Finch (born March 13, 1951) is an American businesswoman, aviator and aviation historian from San Antonio, Texas, with a varied career including more than 30 years experience in the construction and operation of health care facilities, the construction and installation of telecom equipment sites worldwide, and director of various projects focused on needs of the elderly and children. Flying, health care, and education blended into her career. She is most noted for her 1997 World Flight, recreating and completing Amelia Earheart's attempted world record. World Flight was created to support an educational and motivational curriculum that reached 2.2 million children worldwide, used by more than 76,000 educators, and garnered more than 30 million hits on the World Flight website in 1997. It was deemed by the Department of Education to be the first large internet educational program of its kind. Pratt & Whitney, The Department of Education, the Navy,Air Force, NASA, and others partnered with Linda to bring a message of possibility to millions of at-risk children.[1][2]

Aircraft career[edit]

During Finch's early 20s she wanted to learn to fly a World War II F4U Corsair fighter aircraft. Finch obtained her pilot's license in 1972, after which Finch flew regularly to health care and retirement facilities that she managed throughout Texas.[3] In her 30s, she bought a North American T-6 Texan, a WWII trainer which she completely restored, modified and raced, primarily to prepare her to fly the larger and more difficult aircraft.[4]

Early in her flying career, Finch joined the Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force) Association to fly WWII aircraft, including the T-6 and Corsair, she wanted to tell the story of the planes and their pilots. The CAF brought to life the heroes and the struggle to defend our nation and allies. Finch was the head coordinator and primary sponsor of the Commemorative Air Force Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, (S/N: 44-90368, marked as 44-33240). She was a major fundraiser for the restoration and marketing of this rare aircraft, of which it is reported that there are only a small number still flying. She is also a commercial licensed, pilot for this and other types of aircraft and assisted in maintenance and restoration for multiple aircraft.[3]

Finch has logged more than 8,000 flying hours with approximately 5,900 of these flying hours in vintage multi-engine aircraft, warbirds and tail draggers. She has flown in numerous air shows around the world for more than 20 years.[3]

World Flight 1997[edit]

Finch recreated and completed the attempted around-the-world flight of Amelia Earhart.[3] To tell Amelia Earhart's message, "that you can have your dreams and you should not live within the limits society sets for you." Linda wanted men, women, and especially children to understand we alone set our limits, and each of us has to power to soar higher. The recreation of the 1937 around-the-world flight of Earhart was known as "World Flight 1997."[5] Finch's flight marked the 60th anniversary of Earhart's failed effort as well as centennial of her birth.[6][7]

History records that Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, the first woman to fly nonstop across the United States and first woman to fly from Hawaii to the west coast of California. The whole world was watching Amelia Earhart when she began her global attempt and of course then mourned her when the plane came up missing without a trace.[8] Earhart was lost somewhere in the south Pacific Ocean. Finch hoped children around the world would understand Earhart's courage, hope and determination, and find heroes in their own lives - heroes that would teach them to also "reach for the sky".[9]

Finch flew a restored 1935 Lockheed Electra 10E, the same make and model aircraft as Earhart on her last journey.[1] Finch completed this historic flight, and education and communication programs with the help of Pratt & Whitney. Hamilton Standard delivered the web site that hosted the first large educational internet program. Supplemental curriculum was provided to over 40,000 schools around the world, and more than 2.2 million children, women, and adults "flew with Linda" around the world on this grand adventure.


The uniqueness of Finch's flight is that it was done in a rare 1935 Electra 10E, restored to the specifications of Earhart's plane.[3] Finch believed the flight should be in the same make and model plane and searched for 3 years to acquire the remains of one of only two Electra 10Es in existence, neither was flight-worthy. Finch found it stored in a garage at a small grass strip airport near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where it had been sitting for years; the wings were off, the engines had been sold and various other parts were missing. Finch spent nearly every penny she had (a total of $330,000) to purchase the hulk and haul it back to her hometown in Texas.[10] She set about restoring it with the help of a one and a half million dollar donation from aircraft engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney.[6] This company designed and built the original Wasp radial engines that powered Amelia Earhart's Electra.[1][7] Using original drawings and old vintage photographs, the 1935 aircraft was accurately restored right down to its rivets.

The Electra methodically and meticulously put the plane back together with great attention to original specifications.[2] The only exception to the original is that Finch's Electra was equipped with modern navigation and communication equipment whereas Earhart's had primitive radio communications by today's standards.[1] Finch's aircraft was outfitted with a Global Positioning System for world navigation and tracking electronics as she hopped across the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean between the islands.[5][8] Amelia Earhart's communication and navigation problems in 1937 were far more challenging.

Finch's Electra 10E was modified to carry approximately the same amount of fuel as Earhart. >

Recreation of historic flight[edit]

Finch's recreated flight began from Oakland International Airport at Oakland, California, on March 17, 1997. This was 60 years later to the day of Amelia Earhart's 1937 infamous around-the-world flight attempt in her twin-engine plane. Finch's flight took 10 weeks to complete as she flew in increments of 8 to 18 hours at a time. Between flights, Linda used the time to spread Amelia's message and interact with students following the trip.

Retracing the flight path of Amelia Earhart, Finch closely followed the same route that Earhart flew, stopping at 36 way-points in 18 countries before finishing the trip two and a half months (a total of 73 days) later when she landed back at the Oakland Airport on May 28.[1] The trip was about 26,000-miles long.[6] Finch's flight and education programs were supported by Pratt and Whitney. The Hartford Currant and Reid Dennis helped tell the story. "That you can have your dreams - and they should be big dreams". The Electra's cabin is not pressurized and it does not carry oxygen and, like Earhart, Finch had to fly below 12,000 ft for all of the flight.[8]

Finch touched down on five continents while mirroring Earhart's route and stops as best she could. She flew an additional 1,000 miles to allow Finch to drop a single wreath over Howland Island from her aircraft in honor of the pioneering aviator.[8] Finch's last leg on May 28 was an estimated 18-hour flight between Hawaii and Oakland, California.[6] At the time of this historic flight in 1997, Finch was 46 years old, five years older than Earhart's age on her final flight.[8]

Finch believed that Earhart's courage, heroism and limitless vision are powerful inspirations for young people of all ages. Finch tied her flight to an educational program called "You Can Soar."[3][5] Finch's team, and Pratt & Whitney, developed a comprehensive free multimedia educational outreach program as part of the historic recreated flight. Pratt and Whitney financed the educational programs, which reached a million at-risk and minority middle school students and their teachers in the United States alone as they followed her progress daily.[3][5] Finch met with groups of school children at all her stops in the United States and many of her stops overseas. Pratt & Whitney provided World Flight 1997 an official web site with a multimedia school program that used the flight to teach geography, science, weather and mathematics to students. As well, the high-tech computer and communication equipment in her aircraft allowed children in some 200,000 classrooms around the world to chart her progress via the Internet.[2][5] The website was accessed approximately 30 million times in 2 1/2 months. Finch said she used a laptop in the cockpit of the Electra to answer e-mail messages and she spent four or five hours every day after landing to keep in touch with her businesses and her three children: Julie, Leslie and Katie (ages 28, 21 and 2 at the time).[6]

After finishing the historic flight, Finch said to the spectators and media gathered at Oakland International Airport:

Now that I'm home I can confidently say that Amelia Earhart's message is as alive and vibrant today as it was 60 years ago. We learned that the differences in the people we met are far less than the distance we traveled. We saw the same hopes and dreams in the faces of children around the world, eager to learn about their own power and possibilities. It's been a wonderful ride, filled with memories I will never forget for as long as I live. But the world truly is getting smaller and smarter. And my wish is that good work carries on. I also want every one of the children we touched to remember that you too can soar on the wings of your own dreams and how wonderful those dreams are. I will continue to spread that message to anyone who will listen.[8]

Finch appeared at numerous aviation-related events, schools, businesses, museums, and children programs, to continue to deliver her message and encourage others to tackle big dreams and make a big difference in our world.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle has acquired the Electra, and now uses it to share its message - that there are not limits in what we can achieve, and we can all change a part of our world for the better, we can change ourselves, and we can have our dreams.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Amelia Earhart's Legacy Remembered. Retrieved: June 19, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Linda Finch mini-biography Archived 2008-06-11 at the Wayback Machine,; retrieved June 19, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Linda Finch article. Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: June 19, 2008.
  4. ^ "Eagle Biography: Linda Finch". Retrieved: June 20, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e Civil Air Patrol News, Volume 29, Number 6, June 1997, pp. 16–20.
  6. ^ a b c d e Linda Finch did more than re-enact Amelia Earhart's final flight: she was sowing dreams. The educational curriculum, You Can Soar, and the World Flight website brought millions of children along for the flight. Retrieved: June 19, 2008.
  7. ^ a b Pelt 2005, p. 220.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Wings of Dreams - May 28, 1997" (transcript). PBS. Retrieved: June 19, 2008.
  9. ^ Riding the wind. (pilot Linda Finch will recreate Amelia Earhart's historic flight attempt from 1937 to circle the earth). Archived 2008-06-26 at the Wayback Machine Jack & Jill magazine, March 1997. Retrieved: June 19, 2008.
  10. ^ Berthelet, Dorothy. Oshkosh Visit. Retrieved: June 20, 2008.
  • Crouch, Thomas D. "Searching for Amelia Earhart." Invention & Technology Volume 23, Issue 1, Summer 2007.
  • Duffy, Paul. Amelia Earhart, World Flight 1937, World Flight 1997, Linda Finch (booklet). East Hartford, CT: Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Group, 1997. OCLC 38117078.
  • Gillespie, Ric. Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006. ISBN 1-59114-319-5.
  • Hoffman, David. Following Amelia Earhart: Heroines of the Sky (DVD). Camden, ME: Varied Directions International, 2002.
  • Pelt, Lori Van. Amelia Earhart: The Sky's No Limit (American Heroes). New York: Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 0-7653-1061-9.
  • Szabo, Corinne. Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart. Washington, DC: National Geographic Children's Books, 1997. ISBN 0-7922-3737-4.

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