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Amelia Earhart’s Airplane

Female Pilots

Anita Snook

Amelia Earhart was one of the first and best-known women in flight, or aviatrix. Shortly after her first flight lesson she purchased a second-hand airplane. This purchase would allow her to focus on aviation, ultimately as her career. Her first airplane was a Kinner Airster biplane and it was painted a bright yellow.  Because of the color Amelia choose to name her plane “The Canary”. This model of the Kinner Airster first came on the aviation scene in 1920. It could travel 300 miles on a tank of gas with a cruising speed of 70 miles per hour and a maximum speed of 85 miles per hour. Coincidentally Amelia took flight lessons at the Kinner Airfield where the owner was also the designer of her airplane. Her lessons were given by another female aviatrix, Anita Snook. Mrs. Snook worked as an employee for Mr. Kinner and an arrangement was made so that Amelia could purchase her plane directly after her first class. Amelia was able to really test this airplane out and subsequently in 1928 broke a record for female pilots by maxing out the airplanes altitude capabilities at 14,000 feet!  Sadly “The Canary” had to be sold due to expenses.

Next Steps

Lady Mary Heath

In 1928 she was a passenger across the Atlantic Ocean in what was probably the start to her fame in aviation. “Friendship” was the name of the Fokker F.7 airplane that was used for this flight. Fokker was initially a Dutch designed airplane, but later multiple American subsidiaries also produced this airplane. In time Amelia decided to purchase another airplane of her own to further her career. In 1928 she was able to purchase an Avro Avian 594 Avian III. This airplane was again purchased second hand as its first owner was the Irish female aviatrix Lady Mary Heath. Lady Mary Heath was the first female aviatrix in the United Kingdom and had used this airplane for at least one of her many famous flights. Because this airplane was made and initially flown in the UK it was marked with an “unidentified aircraft identification mark” of 7083 when Amelia brought it to the United States. This Avro Avian boasted a Cirrus II engine, known for its four-cylinder air-cooled vertical inline engines with speed up to 140 horsepower. The Avro Avian 594 also had modified engine mounts.

Only thirty-three of these specific airplanes were ever built. Amelia later traded in this airplane for a red Lockheed Vega 5B, appropriately nicknaming in her “Little Red Bus”. The Lockheed Vegas were renowned for their efficient use of fuel as well as their resilience. Speeds up to 180 miles per hour could be reached with a range of 725 mile with a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. Many early aviators looked to the Lockheed Vega brand to help them break flight records. Amelia was able to break records herself with this airplane. First and foremost was her flight, alone, across the Atlantic in 1930. What a feat!