Amelia Earhart’s Legacy Enshrined at New Kansas Museum

Members of Amelia Earhart’s family are expected to be in attendance at the grand opening of the museum, which has the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E.

The long-awaited Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison, Kansas is set to open its doors on April 14.
[Courtesy: Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum]

The long-awaited Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison, Kansas is set to open its doors on April 14.

The museum has been in development for several years, designed in partnership with Dimensional Innovations, a Kansas-based experience design firm. 

The museum, located at Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport (K59) is being made possible through the support of Boeing, Bombardier, FedEx, Garmin, and Lockheed Martin. According to museum officials, the facility is designed to function as a blending of history and STEM education—with flight technology in the center.

“It’s a tremendous honor to have the support of aviation leaders like Boeing and Bombardier who continue Amelia’s enduring legacy of innovation and share our vision to inspire future generations in the pursuit of flight,” said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation.

Grand Opening Celebration

The grand opening ceremony with a ribbon cutting is slated for Friday at noon CST in front of the museum. 

"The museum doors officially open immediately following the ceremony at 12:30 pm CST," said Vanessa Bonavia, museum spokesperson, adding that they have invited some special guests, including members of Earhart's extended family.

"We are expecting special guests, including Bram Kleppner, Amelia’s great-great nephew, and his young daughter, Amelia’s great-great niece," Bonavia said. "We’ve received several RSVPs from members of The Ninety-Nines and Women in Aviation. Amelia Rose Earhart, the young pilot who circumnavigated the globe to honor Amelia’s legacy, will be attending. The colors will be presented by the Kansas Air National Guard. Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall will also share remarks, along with Atchison Mayor Lisa Moody."

Flip through Amelia’s digitized scrapbook to see stories of women who motivated her. [Courtesy: Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum]

The festivities will continue through the weekend. On April 15, pilots from Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Flight Team will invite the public to tour its new Cirrus SR20 and Cessna 172 aircraft, and on April 16, the “RC Fly Jam” featuring radio-controlled planes will be on the museum grounds and tarmac.

Inside the Museum

The Museum is the home of the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E, named

Muriel after Earhart's younger sister, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey. Muriel is identical to the plane Earhart flew on her final flight around the world. 

In addition to the aircraft, there are 14 interactive exhibit areas that allow visitors to trace Earhart's life from growing up in Atchison, to her growing fame as an aviatrix.

Visitors will be able to enter a full-scale replica of Muriel’s cockpit to experience what it was like to be inside the aircraft described as Earhart’s “flying laboratory."

There is a digitized version of Earhart's mechanic logbook for review, and through the magic of augmented reality, visitors can try on Earhart's various careers such as mechanic, nurse, pilot, and even a fashion designer.

After creating their avatar, visitors can “try on” Amelia’s careers as a nurse, pilot, mechanic or fashion designer. [Courtesy: Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum]

Museum officials note each exhibit has been carefully outfitted to meet National Curriculum Standards, Kansas Curriculum Content Standards, and Missouri Standards of Learning. Professionally developed Teacher Guides to support field trips are also available.

There is a heavy aviation component that allows visitors to explore celestial navigation and learn about radio waves and the atmosphere, use 3D holograms to explore technological advances in aviation, pilot a virtual reality flight in a Lockheed Vega 5B across the Atlantic, retracing Earthart's 1932 flight and finally, speculate and vote on theories about what happened to Earhart on her attempt to fly around the world.

History and STEM

Earhart has always been associated with aviation, setting multiple records as a pilot, including being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Many people are surprised to learn that she also had a background in the sciences. According to multiple biographies, she was particularly interested in chemistry, medicine, and mechanics. This makes it a natural fit for aerospace businesses to support the facility.

Enter a full-scale replica of Muriel’s cockpit to experience Amelia’s perspective from her “cubbyhole.” [Courtesy: Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum]

“Amelia’s courage and spirit of adventure will inspire the next generation of aviators, explorers, and innovators to continue breaking new boundaries in aerospace,” said Cheri Carter, vice president of Boeing Global Engagement.

Tonya Sudduth, head of U.S. strategy at Bombardier, added, “We are thrilled to support the new Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum and believe it will have a great impact on the community through its innovative and educational exhibits—inspiring young people to explore the many exciting possibilities and future career paths available in aviation and aerospace.” 

In addition to the aerospace industry, a number of local and national philanthropic organizations are providing support for the museum, including the Donn Lux Family, the Guy Bromley Trust, the Patterson Family Foundation, the Regnier Family Foundation, the Fly With Amelia Foundation, the Stauffer Jambrosic Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation and the William T. Kemper Foundation, and local employers Amberwell Health, Benedictine College, MGP Ingredients and others.

Following the grand opening, the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum will apply to become an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. 

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter