Hilary Swank is to play aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in a biopic set to begin shooting in April, according to US reports.

The Oscar-winning actress signed for the project last year while Avalon Pictures have taken advantage of the postponement of Shantaram to contract Mira Nair for directing duties.

Swank will play the pilot as her flight to fame began, when publicist George Putnam was engaged by socialite Amy Guest in 1927 to set up a non-stop flight across the Atlantic.

When Guest realised she was not capable of completing the journey herself, Putnam recruited Earhart, who had set the world altitude record for a female pilot in 1922.

Though she later admitted that co-pilot Wilmer Schultz did most of the flying on the trip from Trepassey Harbour, Newfoundland to Burry Port in Wales, the flight propelled Earhart to worldwide fame.

She disappeared in 1937 over the central Pacific Ocean while attempting to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe.

Ron Bass completed the Amelia script before the Hollywood writers' strike began, using Susan Butler's book East to the Dawn, Elgin Long's Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved and Mary Lovell's The Sound of the Wings as resources.

Swank can currently be seen in romcom hit PS I Love You and stars alongside Matthew Perry, Ben Foster and Ginnifer Goodwin in family comedy Birds of America, while Nair is shooting sprawling Love Story New York, I Love You.

08/02/2008 14:15:40