After Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, a wealthy American woman living in London named Mary Guest expressed an interest in being the first woman to make the trip. After deciding it was too dangerous to undertake herself, she instead opted to sponsor the project, suggesting that they find “another girl with the right image.” In April 1928, Amelia Earhart got the call.
Earhart interviewed with the project coordinators (who included publisher George P. Putnam, her future husband), and was asked to join with famed pilot Wilmer Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon on the historic flight. Although Earhart was nominally to be a passenger, she piloted the plane for part of the journey noting in the log book, “If anyone finds that wreck, know that the non-success was caused by my getting lost in a storm for an hour.” The team left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland in a Fokker F7 on June 17, 1928, and arrived in Burry Point, Wales, United Kingdom, approximately 21 hours later. When they returned to the States they received a ticker tape parade in New York and a reception by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.
Earhart went on to become one of the most celebrated aviators of the day – male or female – until her tragic disappearance in 1937 while trying to circumnavigate the globe by plane.
?We?re very proud to offer to the collecting public the historic original flight plan from the 1928 transatlantic flight, consigned directly by the surviving nephew of Wilmer Stultz,? said Tom Slater, Director of Americana auctions for Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries. ?On a color-tinted map of the North Atlantic, pilot Stultz carefully marked off the intended flight plan, tracing the journey from its original starting point at Boston, through Newfoundland, and ultimately ending on the coast of Wales. Meticulously written by Stultz in red are the exact longitude and latitude references for dozens of islands, cities, etc, which could serve as landmarks during the flight, or if they veered off course.?
?Also included is the original contract under which Stultz agreed to make the flight,? said Slater. ?Under this agreement, Stultz received a salary of $250 per week while preparing for the flight, plus a bonus in the princely amount of $20,000 upon successful completion – this “carrot” being a clear indicator of the risks involved.?
Slater added, ?Knowing well the risks of transatlantic flight, as he had attempted such a feat previously with another patron, Stultz turned to his friend, Commander Richard Byrd, the noted South Pole explorer – in fact, the plane flown by Stultz and Earhart was the same one that Byrd had previously used in his historic flight over the South Pole – writing him and asking that he hold the $20,000 promised fee as an independent third party, apparently not trusting that his wife would receive the money if something befell him before he was able to return to America to claim it. Byrd’s actual letter to Stultz, agreeing to perform this favor, also accompanies this lot. Following this adventure, Stultz became the personal pilot of John Hay Whitney. Tragically, he was killed in a test flight of Whitney’s Waco Speedwing biplane over Roosevelt Field, Long Island, on July 1, 1929.?
Adding addition display appeal are two more items: an original 8″ x 10″ photograph of Wilmer Stultz and Amelia Earhart aboard the U.S.S. President Roosevelt, and Stultz’s personal pilot’s license. The license pictures a great, youthful photo of Wilmer and is signed by none other than Orville Wright, who was Chairman of the issuing authority – the National Aeronautic Association of the United States of America.
?Heritage has had a great deal of success offering Amelia Earhart items in the past,? Slater said. ?In December 2005, we sold the famed aviatrix?s flying cap for $16,730, and a pair of her goggles for $2,987. Truly scarce by any definition of the term, material associated with this pioneer aviatrix is in demand by collectors world-wide.?
?The term ?museum piece? has never been more fitting than when discussing this historic artifact,” said Slater. ?This exquisite map is not only of tremendous historical importance, but possesses tremendous display appeal; sure to be the focal point of any aviation collection!?
Heritage Auction Galleries will offer the historic Amelia Earhart documents in their upcoming Political Memorabilia and Americana Signature auction, to be held June 7, 2006 at their headquarters in Dallas, Texas.
For more information about Heritage?s auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HeritageAuctions.com.