Museum unveils ‘Amelia’ plane to coincide with movie premiere

Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart in the movie, "Amelia," which opens Friday.

Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart in the movie, "Amelia," which opens Friday.

On Friday, Oct. 23, The San Diego Air & Space Museum will unveil its Lockheed Vega 5B used in the movie “Amelia,” starring Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank.

The plane was created as a prop for the film and was donated to the museum by Avalon Pictures. Amelia Earhart flew a Lockheed Vega 5B on many historic occasions, including the 1929 first Women’s Cross-Country Air Race (also known as the Powder Puff Derby), first female solo flight across the Atlantic, first female solo flight across the United States, and also set several women’s speed and distance records. In its heyday the Vega 5B was known as a racing and record-setting aircraft and established a standard for many other transport aircraft.

“The Lockheed Vega is a very significant addition to the San Diego Air & Space Museum,” said Jim Kidrick, president. “It allows us to upgrade our Amelia exhibit, showcasing her exceptional flying career and positive impact on women in aviation. Our expert restoration team spent hundreds of hours refinishing the Vega after we received it, to ensure the new exhibit superbly represents the quality of the Museum’s other aircraft and artifacts.”

Earhart is perhaps best known for her mysterious disappearance, which occurred somewhere near Howland Island in July 1937. The most extensive air and sea search in US Naval history was launched soon after, costing over $4 million. Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and the plane, a Lockheed Electra, have never been found, although there are dozens of theories as to what happened.

Earhart’s accomplishments include the first female to fly across the Atlantic (1928), first female to fly the Atlantic solo (1932), as well as several altitude and speed records. She was the first president of the Ninety-Nines, an organization created in 1929 to aid women pilots.

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