Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lockheed Electra L-12 Junior: Hilary Swank's ride in the film "Amelia"

Over the next three days Tampa plays host to the first-ever Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Aviation Summit. They estimate that as many as 10,000 aviators will be here in the city and headquartered at the Tampa Convention Center. The exhibit halls will feature aviation products, seminars, updates and general information related to the industry, and the popular and growing flying community. The AOPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to general aviation. It was begun in 1939 and has grown to almost 350,000 members.

One of my favorite places to shoot in Tampa is what is known as the Seaplane Basin. The basin area, which includes the Davis Islands Yacht Club at the very end of Davis Islands, was designed initially for seaplanes. It sits at the very tip of the islands. Part of the dream and 1920's development by David Paul Davis of Davis Islands - that began as nothing more than sand spits off of Bayshore Boulevard and Tampa's downtown business district which he dredged up into today's islands neighborhood. Peter O. Knight Airport, Tampa first airport, was built in the 1930s by workers of the Works Progress Administration. It was named for Knight, an attorney and prominent Tampa businessman. After World War II, Tampa's main commercial airport was relocated from Davis Island to the area of Drew Field, a U.S. Army Air Corps base during the war. Peter O. Knight Airport's runways were too short for larger passenger planes following the war and could not be lengthened to accommodate the newer and larger aircraft. The airport is now used by many private aircraft owners, and an assortment of news helicopters. Peter O. Knight is the host airport for the Aviation Summit and has a display of roughly 100 airplanes and even some helicopters. I saw everything today from balloons to jets, sport and vintage aircraft, and a U. S. Coast helicopter. They even have radio-controlled planes. The day’s weather was perfect. Perfect, and it was fun to watch the take-off and landings of everything from vintage biplanes to small personal jets. (Tampa newest fireboat, which I posted on September 29, HERE, was even docked in the basin for tours.)

This plane is the star of the show. The Lockheed L-12 Electra Junior is an eight-seat, six passenger all-metal transport originally designed in the 1930s for smaller airlines and private owners. It’s a scaled-down version of the Lockheed 10 Electra, the plane actually flown by Amelia Earhart on her last flight before disappearing somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The L-12 Junior, made its initial flight on June 27, 1936. (You should know this plane: an identical L-12 starred with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 film Casablanca.) A total of only 130 Electra Juniors were built. It features two Pratt & Whitney R-985-48 radial engines, each with 450 horsepower. Its maximum speed is 225 mph, and has a range of 800 miles (1,287 km). It flew at just under 23,000 foot.

Hilary Swank is known to movie-goers for her Oscar winning performances in “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby.” In her new film biography, “Amelia,” Swank plays Amelia Earhart, the accomplished pilot, aviatrix (I love that word…sexy!), who vanished in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world. Swank spent quite a bit of time with this very plane and even signed the cabin door (see insert left). If you want to read more and about Swank and this very plane, click HERE. In a word, the plane is spectacular! (And I bet the movie is pretty good.)


Don and Krise said...

I know that plane sure is sexy. I've seen the previews for the movie. It looks like it's going to be good. Nice post and research Frank.

Lois said...

As long as I don't have to go up in it, I think the plane is beautiful (I'm a nervous flyer). I've been wanting to see that movie!

brattcat said...

Hi Frank, she's a beauty. Thanks for your comments. In answer to your question about the age of Esther's house, after a brief consultation with my husband, we guess somewhere between 75 to 100 years.

John said...

That is a beauty; there is something real nice about the all metal aircraft, with the metal left like that rather than a paint job. It must be a joy to fly.

Paula said...

That is a sweet ride! Don't you just love that people restore these classic aeroplanes and share them with us?