Pilot's Namesake Wistful as Quest Nears its End

July 11--Amelia Earhart finally landed Thursday in Honolulu on her quest to fly around the world.

No, not that Amelia Earhart. She still remains one of aviation's great mysteries after her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the Central Pacific 77 years ago.

Amelia Rose Earhart, a former Denver television news reporter who was named for the famous aviator, brought her single-engine Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft into Honolulu Airport a few minutes after noon following a four-hour, 50-minute flight from Christmas Island.

Earhart, 31, is nearing the end of her attempt to re-create the 1937 route of her namesake and, in the process, become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft.

Earhart and her backup co-pilot, Shane Jordan, will take off for Oakland, Calif., early Friday morning on the final leg of the journey.

"I feel like I'm flying with Amelia," she said after she landed Thursday afternoon. "She's been such an inspiration, having led me down this crazy path. I'm just kind of bringing her back home, symbolically bringing her back to Oakland where she launched from."

Honolulu was supposed to play host to another around-the-world adventurer Thursday, but 19-year-old Matt Guthmiller of South Dakota was a no-show after being grounded at Pago Pago, American Samoa, due to bad weather.

Guthmiller, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, is attempting to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world. He's flying a 1981 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza on a 25-stop, 29,000-mile journey across five continents.

Both pilots say their journeys have a larger purpose: Guthmiller is raising money for Code.org, a nonprofit that promotes computer education, while Earhart is awarding flight scholarships to young women through her Fly With Amelia Foundation.

Earhart, who is not related to the famous aviator, said she has even more admiration for her namesake as she approaches the end of her 17-stop, 24,300-mile journey.

On Wednesday, Earhart flew directly over Howland Island and then circled it a couple of times, taking pictures and videos in honor of the flier who vanished in July 1937.

"Seeing that tiny island and knowing that she planned on making it there -- there's a lot of respect, because I don't know how many people would be that brave," she said.

"Since passing over Howland Island we're in uncharted territory," she added. "Up until then we were really tracking Amelia's path. And now that we've passed Howland, we're carrying her forward through Honolulu and then back to Oakland."

Earhart, a big smile on her face and happy to be back in the U.S., said she expects a large crowd when she touches down in California.

"I'm sad it's almost over," she said. "I want to keep going. I want to go again. But there will be other adventures, I'm sure."

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