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FAA Official Trying To Retire Aviator’s Number

January 25, 1988

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The aircraft registration number of the plane Amelia Earhart flew on her last adventure has been taken out of circulation at the request of the aviator’s sister, a federal official said.

″This number is never to be used by anyone again. Reserved for Amelia Earhart for infinity,″ says a note written on a Federal Aviation Administration file card.

But the note’s author, Earl F. Mahoney, manager of the airmen and aircraft registry at the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, said he was unsure whether the order would be permanent.

″I can’t say what a successor would do,″ he said. ″But if I ran across a notation like that I’d sure do some checking before I’d ever put it back in use.″

The number - 16020 - was on the twin-engine Lockheed 10 Electra that Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator, used as they tried to set a record flying around the world at the equator.

The plane went down July 2, 1937, after taking off from New Guinea. Earhart, the first woman pilot to fly the Atlantic Ocean, was never found.

Muriel Earhart Morrissey, of West Medford, Mass., urged in a Jan. 10 letter to FAA Administrator T. Allan McArtor that her sister’s aircraft number be retired.

″N16020 is a precious number,″ she wrote. ″It would seem most fitting if this number were officially retired from the FAA’s list of aircraft registrations.

″And it would be a great tribute to Amelia and her memory to have N16020 retired and preserved for infinity in her name.″

After going unused for 20 years, the number was restored to the active list in 1957 and was used by two planes, a Lockheed 12 that crashed and a Luscombe that was junked. Continental Airlines reserved it for an airliner, but later relinquished it to Earhart’s sister at her request.

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