Yesterday, the fuselage of the world’s last known Lockheed Electra 10E, known as Muriel, began the journey from El Cajon California to a new home in Atchison, Kansas. This follows a late July delivery of the aircraft’s wings and some other parts. The restored aircraft was acquired by the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation. They plan to feature it as part of a new Amelia Earhart museum.
Karen Seaberg, the director of the foundation, explained “The Electra L-10E is the same model aircraft flown by Earhart on her fateful final flight around the world. Our goal is to use Muriel as the anchor of the new museum to bring Amelia Earhart’s story to life from her hometown.” Lockheed originally manufactured 15 Model 10E aircraft. Muriel is thought to be the only known remaining one.
The aircraft is being acquired from Grace McGuire, a pilot and Earhart historian. “We’re thrilled to carry on the amazing Earhart legacy through this aircraft,” Seaberg said. “At a time when it could have been discarded, it was instead impeccably cared for and restored and will now live on to educate future generations.”
McGuire first acquired the aircraft, which she named “Muriel” after Amelia Earhart’s sister, 34 years ago from the now-defunct Wings and Wheels museum located in Orlando, FL. According to McGuire, “The old Electra was the sorriest thing I had ever seen. It was badly corroded and needed major work. I didn’t know at the time that I had bought the only original Electra L-10E in the world.”
Her plan was to restore the plane to an airworthy condition and complete Earhart’s original 29,000-mile voyage. She began a lengthy restoration process but was dealt a tough blow in the mid-1980s when she became very ill. Doctors misdiagnosed the ailment, and she went through continuing and worsening symptoms until it was finally revealed to be Lyme disease. According to McGuire, “One doctor thought I had multiple sclerosis and I knew I was finished. None of the doctors back then knew there was such a thing as Lyme disease-induced multiple sclerosis.”
Over the years, McGuire has continued to work on the aircraft and deal with complications from the Lyme disease. However, she eventually came to the decision that she wasn’t going to be able to make the journey.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew about a year and a half ago it would be impossible for me to do the flight,” McGuire said. “I thought, ‘I’ll never be able to sit in the cockpit for long stretches, and if anything happened, I would have a hard time getting out the escape hatch.’”
McGuire had known Karen Seaberg, and her husband Ladd, since the early 1990s. She also knew that they were interested in Muriel, and using her as a centerpiece for a new Earhart museum. According to McGuire, it took around seven months to make the necessary arrangements for the Seaberg’s to be able to purchase and safely store the aircraft.
According to McGuire, it’s “more an adoption than a sale. I wouldn’t have let her go to anyone else. I didn’t do this for money.”
According to Karen Seaberg, the foundation has raised the money necessary to build a hangar to house Muriel at the Amelia Earhart Airport in Atchison. And while the hangar is under construction, they have a safe and secure place to store the aircraft. However, they will still need additional funding to turn the hangar into a museum and showcase additional artifacts. This includes an actual Lockheed Electra 10A cockpit that’s been modified to resemble a Model 10E cockpit that visitors would be able to sit in.
Seaberg estimates that the foundation would need an additional $500,000 to complete work on the museum. She hopes to continue pushing forward on the project over the next year.
Muriel’s fuselage will be passing through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma on its journey. The aircraft is expected to arrive in Kansas on Friday.
To learn more about the project, and to sign up for future updates regarding the Lockheed Electra 10E Muriel, you can visit the Amelia Earhart Foundation website.
Muriel’s run into some permit issues that are delaying her departure from Gillespie Field. However, she’s safely packed away into a hangar, thanks to aviator Dee Congers. Here’s to hoping the issues are resolved soon, and Muriel can start her road trip to Kansas.
More Disciples of Flight Articles on Amelia Earhart:
Sources and Additional Reading:
Plane similar to Earhart’s to begin journey to Kansas – Jerry Siebenmark
Grace McGuire to Fly for Lyme Disease! – Jane Lee Andersen
Featured Image: Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation / Photo credit: Grace McGuire