Pilot Retraces Earhart Flight

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OAKLAND, California: Flying a 1935 Lockheed Electra 10E, San Antonio businesswoman Linda Finch set off on a journey to retrace Amelia Earhart's doomed around-the-world route, sixty years to the day after Earhart took off. Finch, an accomplished pilot with 20 years of experience flying and restoring historic aircraft, will make 30 stops in 20 countries during her 2 1/2 month trip, including Egypt, Greece, Pakistan and Australia. While the plane's cabin will remain unpressurized without oxygen tanks, technology will provide a safety margin to help prevent a duplication of Earhart's failed 1937 journey. Flint will use global positioning satellite technology to pinpoint her location, VHF radio communications to expedite landings and take-offs and an in-cabin computer to communicate via e-mail with school children following her flight on the Internet. Other than a slight detour over northern Africa to avoid political unrest in Sudan, Finch's flight route will follow precisely the path taken by Earhart. Waving breezily to reporters, Finch says she has no jitters about her 29,000 mile flight. The original Earhart flight ended in disaster after 22,000 miles when Earhart, her navigator and plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on the way between New Guinea and Howland Island. Pratt & Whitney, which is shelling out $4.5 million to sponsor the venture, financed the restoration of Finch's plane and has also established a web site called "World Flight '97" (www.worldflight.org) that will allow school children and aviation enthusiasts to follow Finch's progress.