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Pilot who retraced Earhart flight to speak at air museum’s ‘Women, Wine & Wings’ event

Submitted Photo Dr. Carlene Mendieta, who recreated a 1928 record-setting flight across the country, is shown with the 1927 Avro Avian plane she flew for the flight. Mendieta will be in Minot to speak at a special event at the Dakota Territory Air Museum on Sept. 19.

Dr. Carlene Mendieta of Sonoma, Calif., who repeated Amelia Earhart’s 1928 record-setting cross-country trip in the same type of plane Earhart flew, will be the guest speaker at this year’s Dakota Territory Air Museum’s “Women, Wine & Wings” event on Thursday, Sept. 19.

The event at the Minot air museum will be from 6-8 p.m., with a social followed by the program. Tickets are $25 each. The first 100 people to buy a ticket will each receive a wine glass. Tickets are available at the Dakota Territory Air Museum website at dakotaterritoryairmuseum.com or Facebook, or at the air museum. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The event, open to everyone, celebrates the contributions of women in aviation past and present. Food and drinks will be available at the event.

In September 2001, Mendieta, a California periodontist, flew a rare, fully restored 1927 Avro Avian airplane – the exact same kind of plane Earhart flew – about 5,500 miles at an average speed of 82 mph, from New York to California and back. During the three-week trip, Mendieta landed in the same 23 cities Earhart landed, touched down on grass airstrips and also small-town main streets when possible. She also replicated Earhart’s clothing, accommodations and meals, according to a news release. A website posted her flight updates, shared Earhart information and allowed users to send email to Mendieta.

The plane that Mendieta flew on the flight, owned by Greg Herrick, president of HistoricAviation.com, sponsors of the flight, is a 1927-vintage Avro Avian. It duplicates Earhart’s plane, including it is painted the same silver and blue colors to match Earhart’s original plane. It also carries the same U.S. registration number (7083) and British registration (G-EBUG). Today, the Avro Avian is the only Avian in North America.

Submitted Photo This 1927 Avro Avian is a duplicate of aviatrix Amelia Earhart’s plane. Dr. Carlene Mendieta flew this plane in a recreation of Earhart’s 1928 cross-country flight.

The fully restored Avro Avian was used to re-create another historic flight from England to Australia in 1998, according to Herrick.

Mendieta is an experienced taildragger pilot. Taildragger refers to a particular type of aircraft where the landing gear consists of a main landing gear and a tail wheel at the rear of the aircraft. Like Earhart, Mendieta enjoys working on her plane, including the engines and doing much of her own aircraft maintenance.

“Amelia Earhart is a powerful inspiration for all of us – not only for her accomplishments in aviation, but also for her role in challenging popular notions of a woman’s place in society,” said Mendieta prior to her flight. “I’m thrilled to be tracing Amelia’s flight across America and along the way, sharing the story of a remarkable woman who deserves to be remembered for her life, not just her disappearance.”

Mendieta is a member of The Ninety-Nines, an organization of 6,500 women pilots that was founded by Earhart in 1929.

The next event planned at the air museum will be the Night at the Museum Hangar Dance on Oct. 19. It will be the museum’s final event for the season with food, music, silent auction, dancing and re-enactments of famous aviators of the past including Charles Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong.

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