Lockheed Electra L-10A
Bata's personal plane. The only flying piece in the world.
Year of manufacture
km / h
8 + 2
Number of persons
About the Plane
The "Electra" was originally developed as a transport aircraft, but due to its small size it was more likely to be the personal aircraft of the elite of the time. The Lockheed Electra 10A was made famous by pilot Amelia Earhart, who unsuccessfully attempted to fly around the world in it. Her flight was made famous by her mysterious disappearance in the Pacific Ocean, which is still a matter of speculation today. However, few people know that the same type of aircraft was purchased in 1937 by Jan Antonin Bata, the founder of the Bata empire. Although the serial number 1091 was originally made just for Earhart, it was eventually acquired by Bata, who did not want to wait for the plane. The aircraft flew until the war in Czechoslovakia under the registration OK-CTB. J.A. Bata flew it all over the world. At the beginning of the war it was sold to the Canadian Air Force. After the war, the aircraft changed hands 11 times and made two emergency landings. With the registration N241M, it became the property of Dr. Almond, a general practitioner from Texas. After several years of correspondence with Mr. Almand, the aircraft was purchased and began its overhaul.
325 km / h
300 km / h
6 462 m
Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior SB
400 HP / 298 kW
200 l / h
8 passengers, 2 pilots
Weight of empty machine
Take - off weight
Number of passengers
The story of reconstruction by Venca Bejček
It was necessary to arrange for Electra to be flown to a workplace where they would be willing to undertake the work of restoring the aircraft, had the skills and, most importantly, the authority to do so. The harsh American system sometimes makes some companies overestimate their strengths and abilities, but here at the end of the whole process there must be confirmation from authorized personnel authorized by the FAA to certify airworthiness. The penetration of sets of such companies was not great and finally after negotiations it was agreed to work with Ezell Aviation in the "nearby" town of Breckenridge (the distance between Denton and Breckenridge is about 100 miles), These negotiations took place in June 2010.
First, however, the Electra had to be prepared to fly to the hangar of the repair organization. This was due to take place in early September. This date was based on estimates of the time required to hang the engines and inspect the major components of the aircraft in order to carry out the technical crossing. However, the schedule of the agreed work was not being met and the project was slipping due to objective reasons. Ezell Aviation, as a relatively small company, had a "busy" summer flying season when it ensured the operability of mostly American warplanes called warbirds at air shows.
In fact, it specializes in this activity. It must be objectively admitted that the owner of the company did not hide anything and simply informed that he was not working on the Electra project because he had no capacity left. As with most contracts, there were no agreed penalties (who would have considered them when the contract was negotiated?), so it was simply necessary to accept this state of affairs. Eventually the Electra was prepared for the crossing and in mid-October the aircraft took off after about 15 years in the hangar. For our people from the regions where EASA operates and is strongly rooted, it was quite interesting. I was expecting a committee to come and examine the technical condition of the aircraft before issuing a technical overflight permit to "judge" whether it was capable of completing the overflight representing about one flight hour, but I was very wrong.
The owner of the company, Mr. Nelson Ezell, took the application for technical overflight clearance and other documentation from the aircraft and, since he did not have a fax machine, drove to Denton, where the nearest FAA office is located, and returned an hour later with the clearance to fly. I asked him how it was possible for him to have a clearance when no one from the FAA had seen the plane. He looked at me uncomprehendingly and said something to the effect that it was he and his company that had the authority to make the decision, that after deliberation had decided that the plane was flyable and had applied for its clearance, not the FAA administrators. Interesting observation.
I must say that I witnessed a true American pragmatic approach, as the Electra was virtually tested only on the engines and engine instruments, landing gear function, and the condition and functionality of the control surfaces including rudders, ailerons and flaps. After engine testing and refueling, the Electra took to the air bound for Breckenridge Municipal Airport. Everything went smoothly.
It was agreed that Ezell Aviation would begin work to perform a finding on the aircraft and propose remediation of the defects found and the entire matter would be consulted on an ongoing basis with the aircraft expected to be ready for flight status in approximately May 2011. This is a "critical" bread-breaking moment for any aircraft owner. It is always a question of what is found on the aircraft and to what extent the find is repairable, for how much money and for how long. Again, nothing moved forward until , in early December, after two weeks of consideration, Ezell Aviation proposed to withdraw from the contract on the grounds that it was unable to guarantee the timely completion of the project due to lack of capacity.
As it later turned out, there were more reasons, including the fact that they were planning to move the site to a new larger hangar at the airport that was under construction and they had been awarded a lucrative contract to refurbish the "warbird". Too bad, Ezell Aviation had, if I'm not mistaken, been awarded two "Golden Wrench Awards" (an award for historic aircraft restoration given at the Oshkosh Air Show). You can always tell how solid people are in a crisis. Nelson Ezell suggested arranging for work on the Electra with Wichita Air Services Inc. (which likes to present itself with an acronym very conventional to pilots, simply WASI). This turned out to be a good choice, apparently. WASI had spare capacity at the moment (they had finished work on the refurbishment of the Grumman J2F6-"Duck" - an amphibian now flying in Florida in the Phantasy of Flight airshow) and, most importantly, they had those golden keys from Oshkosh for a total of 5 (later it turned out that they could only present and brag about 4, because the fifth one was taken for themselves by a mechanic who left them and claimed that they got the award mainly because of him).
But more importantly, they were able to get to work on Electra right away. It turned out that the "aerospace" capital of the USA, Wichita, where companies like Hawker-Beechcraft are based and manufacture, Cessna has its main tent here, where the famous Citation Jets are made, one of Boing's manufacturing plants is located here, and until recently the Canadian company Bombardier, which had reportedly cut back production and laid off many employees, didn't have many orders, and that included WASI.
As is the "rule" in such cases, WASI has only a portion of its operations in Wichita. The aircraft refurbishment takes place in the town of Newton about 20 miles north of Wichita. A similar overflight clearance ritual took place (this time by fax only) and Electra prepared for a second overflight. Again, mostly a thorough engine test. From Breckenridge to Newton is about 300 NM practically exactly north through the rest of the state of Texas, the tip of Oklahoma and into the middle of Kansas. All totally flat and the Electra "made it" at the slow pace of an air granny at 6000 feet in 3:06 including taxiing. Who would chase a lady in the years with a 1937 birth year and especially before the "facelift" ? The aircraft registry has a very old entry for the Electra, dated April 22, 1937.
The table shows the first matriculation in the then Czechoslovakia in 1937, the serial number and all her call signs from her turbulent history. The first call sign, NC17380, is American, as Bata acquired this aircraft to replace its first, older Electra, which was damaged beyond repair in an emergency landing near Chicago. Bata was lucky then. He needed the plane to complete his promotional trip around the world, and Lodkheed had one aircraft available for immediate delivery because his customer had not taken it.
Then the Electra found itself in Kansas with quite a lot of interest from WASI workers and work could resume. Or, once again, the suspense of what the experts would find on the old lady came up. After a month or so of discovery, the list in early January 2011 was quite long, but "merciful". Many problems, cracks, corrosion and the like were found, but no defect of the kind that would end the Electra's "active" flying life. I would liken it to a minor miracle when I consider all that the aircraft has been through. I guess Lockheed made it to last.
Next, they arranged a repair procedure for individual parts and assemblies. The Electra is in "negligee" under the care of WASI mechanics in Newton and the aircraft is scheduled to be flown after the overhaul in the coming months. Everything went well and after the overhaul and flights, preparations for retraining the pilots and plans to fly home to the Czech Republic have begun.
Maiden flight and fly home
The maiden flight and the reconstruction went well and after the crews were deployed and the trip was planned, the big moment arrived. Flying across the ocean to Europe.
The first leg of the journey was from the United States to Hamilton, Canada, where the big journey was about to begin. The crew consisted of six members and a Cessna 525 escort plane was tasked with transporting the rest of the crew, belongings and the vanguard of the weather development. On May 20, 2015, the crossing began in stages Canada - Greenland - Iceland - Europe. Due to the relatively low endurance of the Electra, the flight stages were divided into four-hour segments at 10,000 ft.
Electra flew home to Točna on May 28, 2015 after 40 hours in the air.
These days you can see Electra at Hangar Open Days or at events of all kinds around the Czech Republic.