With its signature twin tail, and exceptionally clean and art-deco appearance, the Lockheed Model 10 Electra series emerged as a purpose-built design intended to respond to the Douglas DC-2 and Boeing 247 airliners that were revolutionizing commercial airlines by the mid-1930s.
Currently registered as N72GT but wearing historical markings NR-16020 as well – the marks worn on Amelia Earhart's Electra - this Model 10-E was the 15th of a total of 149 Model 10's of all variants that were built. Originally acquired brand new by Northwest Airlines in 1935 and marked NC-14900 as a Model 10-A, this Electra possesses an extraordinary historical pedigree. She was flown extensively by Northwest well into the World War Two years but, in August 1942, was acquired by the U.S. Army Air Forces and donned olive drab camouflage and became a UC-36A, USAAF serial number 42-57213.
After the end of the war, she spent a short period with the Brazilian Air Force as FAB-1002, and then sold to the Brazilian national flag airline, VARIG, where the aircraft became PP-VAR and converted under the appropriate Approved Type Certificate to Model 10-E configuration.
In 1994, aviatrix Linda Finch happened upon this aircraft and, after a phenomenal restoration project, aided greatly by Pratt & Whitney, builder of the original engines, set out on an around-the-world flight in March 1997, the 60th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's attempt, replicating, insofar as possible, Earhart's original flight plan. Although she did not stop at Howland Island, due to the deterioration of the landing strip there, she did drop a wreath near the island to remember the ill-fated crew and her sister aviator. Now configured and marked precisely like Amelia Earhart's classic aircraft, this Electra will serve as a tangible and exceptionally appropriate reminder of a vibrant and memorable pioneer, and inspiration to generations of young women who will follow in her footsteps.
The Lockheed Model 10 Electra series was the first aircraft project that young aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was assigned to when he joined the firm in 1933. The line of aircraft that issued forth under his guidance in the years that followed reads like a chapter from the “Greatest Aircraft of All Time,” many of which are represented in the collections of The Museum of Flight. These include the Lockheed P-38 “Lightning,” the 1049G “Super G Constellation,” a P-80 Shooting Star (awaiting restoration as a Navy configured TV-1), his own personal Lockheed “Jetstar,” the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter,” the M-21/D-21 “Blackbird” and, most recently, the exotic YO-3A.