A Remarkable Barter Story

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Bartering an airplane

by: Arthur Noort

Our co-founder – here at BarterQuest – Dr. Paul Bocheck is a huge fan of two things: bartering and airplanes. You can imagine he could not believe his eyes when he visited an air show in New Jersey and read the story about how Joe Shepherd, owner of an award winning 1936 Lockheed Electra junior, acquired his airplane.

The discovery of a classic plane

When he first came across the Electra Jr. in 1988, Shepherd owned a Cessna 195 which was a perfectly fine airplane. The Electra Jr. however was in a poor state. It had been sitting on a ramp in Texas for over a decade. Shepherd wanted to have the plane and the owner of the Electra Jr. happened to want a Cessna 195. So a deal was made and they traded planes! Shepherd asked friends and family to fly out to Texas with him and help get the classic aircraft home. This proved to be a huge hassle due to the state the plane was in. However they somehow managed to fly the plane to Fayatteville, Georgia and the plane would stay there for some time.

The arrival in Georgia heralded a long restoration process. With the help of family and friends Shepherd spent over 19 years bringing the Electra Jr. back to its glorious original state. It flew for the first time again on the 13th of April 2007. Since then it has won many awards but the real climax came when Hollywood filmmakers asked Shepherd if they could use his plane in a movie.


Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and has set many other records. She was a member of the National Women’s Party and an early supporter of equal rights for men and women. Amelia disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island in 1937 and it is still not clear what happened exactly on that 2nd of July. The stories about her life and disappearance inspired and fascinated many people, including Fox Searchlight filmmakers. They decided to make a movie about her.

When in pre-production, the filmmakers were looking for models of planes which Amelia Earhart flew in her days. They did not have to search for long when they encountered Shepherd’s fully restored Lockheed Electra Jr. One phone call later and Shepherd’s plane was about to become a movie star. He actually flew the plane himself when they shot the scenes including his classic airplane. Dressed with a wig and a concealing scarf he even fulfilled the role of stand-in for Hilary Swank, who played the leading role.

This story proves how exciting and interesting life can be when you barter! Opportunities can come from the strangest and most unexpected places. This, of course, is one of the most amazing events that followed from two people trading two items. Joe Shepherd and his family and friends put in huge amounts of efforts to restore this old plane. But who could ever thought this would be the outcome?!


Joe Shepherd’s official website
Fox Searchlight official website