On This Day in 1997, Linda Finch Completed Her Round-the-World Flight

John G. Mabanglo // AFP // Getty Images
John G. Mabanglo // AFP // Getty Images / John G. Mabanglo // AFP // Getty Images

On May 28, 1997, pilot Linda Finch concluded her flight retracing Amelia Earhart's round-the-world attempt. Finch landed at the Oakland, California airport—where Earhart had intended to finish her globe-spanning flight 60 years prior. Finch's flight took two and a half months.

The last leg of the trip was the longest. It was a 2,000-mile slog from Honolulu to Oakland. Finch flew the same model of plane Earhart used, an Electra 10E built in the 1930s. It cruised at just 90 mph, yet it was enough to circumnavigate the Earth. She used a modern navigation/communication system (including weather radar) to make the journey less perilous. Cheering crowds greeted her in person, and others followed along online, reading text updates. Vice President Al Gore called her after the landing with a message of congratulations.

During her journey, Finch posted updates online and answered emails from kids. She called the project "World Flight 1997," and lots of kids "flew with Linda" in school. Her classic World Flight 1997 website is still accessible thanks to The Internet Archive.

Here's a snippet from Finch's final dispatch before landing, written from the plane (which could, incidentally, send and receive faxes, among other cool 1997 things!):

May 28 - En Route to Oakland It is 6:30 am Oakland time. We will be landing at 9:30 as planned. The sun has come up and there is a beautiful layer of clouds below. We flew through some rain showers for about an hour, and it was a little bumpy. The morning is beautiful. I will soon be going to the back of the plane to put on a clean flight suit for the arrival. It will be great to be home. I can't wait to be able to hug my children. I have gotten hugs from many children all around the world, but they have not replaced the ones I have missed. I have lots of family and close friends that will meet me at the plane. It is hard to believe that we have almost finished the entire flight. We have been all of the way around the world. As I have told you before, the world is much smaller for me now - and I hope it is for you also. The people we met are just like the people at home.

Here's a delightful 1990s video on Finch and her flight: