New Search For Amelia Earhart Begins

Air Transportation DisastersTransportation DisastersDisasters and AccidentsScienceAmelia EarhartU.S. Navy

A photograph taken in October 1937 may hold some answers as to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Earhart was one of the most famous people and aviators in the 1930s. She disappeared while on a worldwide treck flying her Lockheed Electra twin engine plane. Her last departure was from New Guinea on July 2, 1937 with her flight navigator Fred Noonan. She had already circumnavigated most of the world, and this was the last remaining 7,000 miles, which she would fly over the Pacific Ocean. Her destination was a small island not far from Hawaii called Howland.

She never made it to Howland, but an extensive search was conducted by the U.S. Navy. Many think she crashed since the plane and any trace was never found. But researchers from TIGHAR (The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery) feel quite differently. The organization has been searching for clues for years and have come to an interesting conclusion. They feel Earhart purposefully crashed her aircraft on a smooth tropical reef in the Pacific after running dangerously low on fuel. It was near the shores of Nikumaroro, a small, uninhabited island located between Hawaii and Australia. Click here for a detailed photo of the island.

The plane is thought to have stayed afloat for a day or two, and during that time frame she supposedly sent radio distress calls (while battery power permitted) that were heard by some folks around the world. A photo taken three months later (after her disappearance) in October 1937 by a British officer has now surfaced with some interesting notations. Researchers claim pieces of her aircraft may be visible after a high resolution digital scan was performed of the original photo. Click here to see the actual photo.

Researchers say the object in the photo (on the reef) could be a composition made from the upside down landing gear of Earhart's plane...including a floating wheel, fender, strut, and a worm gear. TIGHAR has visited Nikumaroro several times over many years and has found evidence that castaways may have been living on the island for a short time before perishing from a lack of food and water. They found items consistent with things both Earhart and Noonan may have carried at the time of their disappearance.

Beginning July 3, 2012, the group will embark on a research expedition departing from Hawaii and traveling to the shores/reef of Nikumaroro. They will be carrying the latest state-of-the-art equipment in high resolution multi-beam sonar, side scan sonar, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), and an (ROV) Remote Operated Vehicle. They will be searching specifically for her aircraft or parts. Researchers are hoping the plane wasn't carried out to sea, or that it didn't sink to a depth of 5,000 feet off the reef. They are looking for any possible clues that may be present after 75 years!

It will take eight days to reach the island from Hawaii, and the complete voyage should wrap up by the end of July. Click here for extensive further information and other findings on Amelia Earhart from TIGHAR.

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