The day Amelia dropped in – Story and Pictures by Bette Meyrick
1928 Clarence Meyrick, known to friends and family as Mick, was living in Llanelli and was a Circuit Manager for the Anglo American Oil Company. He was thirty years old. In June of that year he was working in the Llanelli area when the momentous news came through that Amelia Earhart’s much publicised transatlantic flight had been forced to land at Burry Port – shortage of fuel having made it impossible to reach the original destination of Southampton.
Refuelling was of paramount importance and Mick was only too delighted to be instructed by the Anglo American Oil Company to make the necessary arrangements. Crowds soon gathered on the quayside to view the tri-motor Fokker aircraft: Friendship bobbing on the waters of the Loughor Estuary and to catch a glimpse of the first woman to fly across the Atlantic – the famous Amelia Earhart with her two companions.
A member of the local constabulary quickly turned up and was promptly rowed out to the aircraft. He proceeded to scramble on to the floats to take charge and guard Friendship.
Shortly afterwards Mick drove up to the quayside with numerous two gallon cans of fuel. Three men helped him to load a rowing boat and off they set across the estuary, Mick puffing furiously on a cigarette as they pulled on the oars.
Mick was warmly welcomed by a grateful Amelia, her two companions and the constable. The fuel was quickly 1ifted on board and Mick jumped onto the float and climbed into the aircraft through the flimsy doorway to stack the fuel, still smoking merrily and seemingly unaware of the potential hazard!
He glanced outside and realised, that photographers, bobbing about in their rowing boats, were making the most of the momentous occasion and he decided he’d try to get a copy or two – which, as you can see, he did. They are now treasured by his son Noel. Truly a momentous day at Burry Port for Mick Meyrick.
Amelia Earhart’s CV
Born 24th July 1897. Disappeared July 1937. In June 1928 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. It all started on 27th April 1926 with a phone call from a Captain H Railey asking, “How would you like to fly across the Atlantic … as a passenger?”
She was an accomplished pilot and would much have preferred to pilot the plane herself. However, she agreed to be a passenger on the historic flight with pilot Wilmer Stultz and Mechanic Louis Gordon in the tri-motor Fokker Friendship. They set off from Newfoundland, their destination Southampton, England. But shortage of fuel brought them down at Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, Wales. In 1932 Amelia became the first woman to achieve a solo transatlantic flight, sustained by soup and aided by smelling salts to keep her awake!
July 1937 saw Amelia Earhart attempting a highly publicised ‘Round the World’ solo flight. However, whilst crossing the Pacific all contact with her was lost and despite prolonged searches by the American Navy, no trace of Amelia or her plane was found.
The story of the flight – from newspaper reports of the day.
The Friendship took off shortly after 2 in the afternoon from Trepassy, Newfoundland on Sunday, June 17th 1928 and landed at Burry Port at 12.40pm on the Monday, some 21 and a half hours later, having crossed 2100 miles of ocean at an average speed of 100mph
The weather was bad nearly all the way. According to Wilmer Stultz, who did most of the flying, “It was raining most of the time and we met with fog most of the way. We were flying blind most of the time at about 400ft.”
So bad was the weather that the Friendship flew over Ireland without any of the crew seeing it. Amelia Earhart said, “We could get no When the tanks were checked they wireless communication on the way, but were reported as having no more than we saw a steamer this morning and thought we would let someone know.”
She told one reporter that the crossing was, ‘beastly’, but the behaviour of the seaplane, the first Atlantic plane fitted with floats and carrying a spare engine, was ‘dandy’. Amelia Earhart took two stints at the controls during the crossing but confessed to one reporter ‘there was no fun in it’
It must certainly have been an anxious time before they sighted land for fully aware they were ruining short of fuel, they jettisoned all but their necessities in an attempt to lighten the aircraft and make the fuel go further. The cabin was pretty well stripped bare by the time they put down in Burry Port harbour, narrowly missing a sandbank on the approach.
When the tanks were checked they it were reported as having no more than 50 gallons of fuel in reserve. ‘This meant that the supply for practical purposes was exhausted, as owing to the nature of the gravity arrangements, the flow of fuel to the carburetors had ceased. The machine could not have kept in the air for another five miles.’
Amelia Earhart said that the motors 1 spat and the gas ran low ‘but I had neither fear nor doubt of success’. The flight might have been less fortunate had the Friendship been flying in the other direction, as they were helped by a following wind all the way. In explanation of why she had accepted the offer of the flight Miss Earhart said, “It would have been too inartistic to refuse.”
The flight was financed largely by Mrs Frederick Guest, the American wife of Capt Guest a British MP and former Air Minister. The Guests were in Southampton awaiting the Arrival of the Friendship when news came in of the Burry Port landing. They immediately made arrangements to fly down to West Wales to meet the triumphant trio.
In 1932 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone, establishing a new record for the crossing: 13 hours and 30 minutes. For this feat she was awarded honours by the American and French governments.
In 1935 she became the first woman to fly the Pacific Ocean, crossing from Hawaii to California. Later the same year she set a speed record by flying non-stop from Mexico City to New York in 14 hours and 19 minutes. In June 1937 she began a flight around the world, flying eastward from Miami Florida accompanied by Frederick J Noonan, a navigator. Their plane disappeared on July 2nd, while en route from Lae. New Guinea, to Howland Island.
An extensive search by planes and ships of the United States Navy failed to discover any trace of the lost flyers, and their fate remains a mystery.
Shortly after Earhart’s disappearance, her husband, the book publisher George Palmer Putman, edited and published “Last Flight 1937” a book consisting largely of her diary of the ill fated journey.