After 60 years Amelia's flight is complete

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The Independent Online
Linda Finch, a Texan businesswoman,, has completed the round-the- world flight which sixty years ago cost the life of the flying pioneer, Amelia Earhart.

The 46-year-old mother of three, who made a fortune in the nursing home business, touched down in Oakland, California, in a restored twin-engine Lockheed 10 E Electra, the same model that Earhart was flying.

"I'll see you soon," Finch promised well-wishers in a broadcast carried over the airport's public address system shortly before she landed.

She left Oakland on 17 March and in two and a half months of flying covered 26,000 miles, stopping in 18 countries as she circumnavigated the world along the equator.

The last flight along her route was regarded as the most difficult - a 2,400 mile journey from Honolulu to the West Coast. Facing strong head winds, the aircraft was laden with extra fuel for the 15-hour flight.

Finch was resting yesterday before a press conference and scheduled call from President Clinton.

Earhart sent her last radio message on 2 July 1937, frantically trying to find her bearings as she approached Howland Island in the central Pacific.

Despite searches for Earhart's last resting place, neither her remains, nor those of her plane were ever found. A week ago, Finch dropped silk wreaths near the island to honour Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan. The trip was sponsored by the Pratt and Whitney, who made the engines for the original aircraft.

Finch avoided several African countries on Earhart's route because of political instability, and could not herself land at Howland Island because it no longer has an airport. "My strongest thought is that I'm so close to home. Amelia must have been so disappointed, she got so close," she said, before leaving Honolulu.

In speeches in Africa, Asia, Australia and South America, she has stressed that Earhart was living a dream. She believed "that people should not live within limits that were set by society or the many kinds of limits we set for ourselves," Finch said.