Investigators think they've uncovered a key clue that will lead them to solve the mystery of what happened to legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who disappeared on a trans-Pacific flight 75 years ago.
Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), said a new enhanced analysis of a photo taken on the Pacific atoll of Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island, three months after Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared, may show the landing gear of her Lockheed Electra protruding from a reef.
“We found some really fascinating and compelling evidence," Gillespie said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday.
“Finding the airplane would be the thing that would make it conclusive,” he said.
Gillespie said the photo was taken by a British survey team in October 1937 and had been seen by Earhart researchers many times. But investigators took a new look at it in 2010 and, when their suspicions were triggered, had the photo checked by U.S. State Department experts. In a blind review, they determined the component in the picture is the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra.
"This is where the airplane went into the drink," Gillespie said.
On July 2, 75 years to the day after Earhart was last heard from, Gillespie will depart Honolulu on a University of Hawaii research vessel to try to find that plane in the deep waters off a flat reef on Nikumaroro.
The privately funded effort will use robotic submarines from Phoenix International, the U.S. Navy's primary contractor for deep ocean search and recovery, to comb the area. The Discovery Channel will film the exploration for a TV presentation, Gillespie said.
Gillespie acknowledged there would be skeptics after his 23 years of searching for Earhart had yet to yield an answer.
“There are some very smart people who think we’re wrong about this, but there are some very smart people who think we’re right about this,” he said.
One Gillespie supporter is Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the Titanic and other deep sea wrecks, who called himself "a ringer" brought in to vet Gillespie's case.
Ballard said he had rejected offers to look for Earhart's plane, thinking the task too difficult.
“If you ever wanted a case of finding a needle in a haystack, this is at the top of the list in deep sea exploration,” he said at the Washington press conference.
Ballard said he did a strict analysis of Gillespie's research and signed off on the science.
"Every time he passed the test," Ballard said. "Clearly the smoking gun was the analysis of that enhanced image."
Earhart and Noonan disappeared while on a flight from New Guinea to Howland Island that summer of 1937. The flat reef off Gardner Island, 300 miles off their course, had been a suspected landing spot. But those suspicions were largely based on speculation.
At Tuesday's press conference, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell called the disappearance of Earhart "the last great unsolved mystery of the 20th century."
If the mystery is solved this summer, Earhart's aviation trailblazing will have played a part, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said.
"In no small part because of Amelia Earhart our world is smaller," LaHood said. "This very voyage to recover her remains in some ways is doable because of Earhart herself."
“We take a special measure of pride in an expedition that is as enterprising and inspiring as the woman with which it will unite us,” he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saluted Earhart's memory, too.
“Her legacy resonates today for anyone girls and boys who dreams about the stars,” Clinton said. “She gave people hope and she inspired them to dream bigger and bolder.”
Is this an early April Fools Day joke by The Onion?
Another waste of my tax dollars> With everything else this money could do, GOvernment has to be joking about this search ans it's need for the search.
"that Clinton will announce that the U.S. government will help in a privately funded search for Earhart's lost plane"
Do the words "privately funded" mean anything to you people?
Read the article.
do the poor widdle baby girl got a koch jammed up it's azs?
Read the article "privately funded" means for those of you Repugs and non readers. It means an organization that operates without the benefit of being funded by ANY of our tax dollars. this is a missing person case at the least, an I for one would not mind in the least bit if our tax dollar`s were used to for it. kinda like they are being used everyday to find missing people, the only diff being time.
not your money–the project is privately funded as the article states.
Did you even READ THE ARTICLE????? Unbelievable.
THE PRIVATELY FUNDED EFFORT will use robotic submarines from Phoenix International, the U.S. Navy's primary contractor for deep ocean search and recovery, to comb the area. The Discovery Channel will film the exploration for a TV presentation, Gillespie said.
Proof that not only are the bulk of people illiterate, but, additionally, they do not have attention span to even listen. "privately funded."
Extraordinary that people no longer read but insist on blogging anyway. The article states; "The privately funded effort will use robotic submarines from Phoenix International, the U.S. Navy's primary contractor for deep ocean search and recovery, to comb the area. The Discovery Channel will film the exploration for a TV presentation..." Privately means that funding comes from corporations and private donors. It has nothing to do with tax money. Try reading and listening!
oopsy Sorry folks. But "geez loiuse"!
Where is there mention of Tax money? All I see is "The Discovery Channel is supporting the venture" and "The Us Government will help with a PRIVATELY funded search" all that means is probably the US Government will help by getting them permission from other governments to search and some other non money related help. You guys really need to use the English language before freaking out.
Thanks, Jonathan, the freaky right is crying like little girls this A.M. ...heck, all the time
How is this supposed to create jobs again?
by sending you to Faux Snews bot school, you wern't rude enough
Actually, it is creating jobs. But this isn't a federal program backed by tax payer money. I guess if someone like Rush or Glenn isn't telling you what to think you don't know how to react.
It creates jobs by allowing scientists, academics, and explorers along with boat crews, technicians, and videographers to ply their trade.
Well, I called it. 5 seconds after I started reading this article, I knew the "Why are you wasting MY tax dollars" zealots would come out of the woodwork.
Those are MY tax dollars, too, for the record and I support any venture that expands our slowly sinking horizons. It's bad enough that NASA funding has been steadily cut over the years.
How about we save some tax dollars by reducing the budge required to occupy other countries that don't even want us there?
Did you vote for Ron Paul? No? Then shut up.
What part of "The privately funded effort" do you read as meaning tax dollars?
There aren't that many words in this article but four of them are " a privately funded search". Take a deep breath and try that reading thing again.
Yet, other news outlets are reporting it as a combined public-private funded expedition. Just what we need, a boondoggle excuse to go to the Pacific and look for evidence 75 years after the fact. What do they hope to find? I do not approve of my tax dollars being spent on this. What a waste.
I do not approve of my tax dollars going towards stupid wars and driving the price of gas up, but there you go.
learn to read friend, it's a privately funded dive. no taxes spent on this one.
I KNOW that. I was making fun of John Schwendler.
What part of "The privately funded effort" do you interpret to mean tax dollars?
PPFfffbbbttt... why read when you can just troll and complain?!
"The privately funded effort will use robotic submarines from Phoenix International", here's is an quote from the article..People should really read this article before getting upset about them using "your tax dollars"....
Janica, and all the others whining about "your tax dollars:" IT'S PRIVATELY FUNDED. What part of that do you not understand? And if you're so upset about your tax dollars being wasted, where were you during the Bush presidency when he was sending our soldiers to Iraq to be slaughtered and maimed by IEDs? Where was your financial outrage then?
You don't approve? This is a republic. The government doesn't need your approval. They got your approval of every future decision they make when you voted for them.
Read the article–it is a privately funded research project–NOT a government funded taxpayer project!!
@janica b: agreed. i'm still waiting for my refund for the wars..
My feelings exactly.
I doubt there are any private funds. I'm sure the vessel from the University of Hawaii is NIH funded which means our tax dollars.
there are private funds including money from the Discovery Channel. As for tax dollars, that can come from many sources. Sometimes the Navy will get involved because instead of doing practice drills, the real thing serves the same purpose and allows them to use techniques learned in real world terms. Without knowing the full details of the quest, it's very difficult to make a rational decision. To many people here are myopic. Btw, there is a lot of private money that has been spent looking for Ms Erherdt's plane. It would not surprise me if Richard Branson hasn't donated a bunch.
NIH?!? What are you smoking? NIH funds some equipment, but seagoing vessels aren't among them.
Which then, in turn, provides jobs for a bunch of people who pay taxes, too:)
Well John, you can be rest assured the governments money, will not be used for this expedition. If you need any more assurance please see your first sentence of your comment.
I believe, if I remember my reading correctly, the doomed flight was for the US Government mission (remember this was war time in Europe...know your US History people!) so therefore using tax dollars for the research and discovery of the plane and/or remains of the flight is most appropriate.
It's not your tax dollars, it's my tax dollars and I'l okay with it. YOUR tax dollars are funding my daughter's welfare check and food stamps. (Sensing an apoplectic fit coming from John's direction at that thought)
i.l ok with it 2
John, I like your tax dollars being spent on this. Mine, too. What the hell.
John, there is a 47% chance that you pay no taxes.
Quit quoting that dumb statistic. It is federal income taxes that 47% do not make enough money to to meet minimum standards. Most of that 47% don't pay federal income tax because of the amount of payroll and state taxes they pay, not to mention sales and property taxes. Please study an issue, and know what you are talking about before you spout of such inane canards.
"The privately funded effort will use robotic submarines from Phoenix International, the U.S. Navy's primary contractor for deep ocean search and recovery, to comb the area. The Discovery Channel will film the exploration for a TV presentation, Gillespie said."
Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing. You should try it sometime.
The public part is just for analysis. No tax dollars involved. If you bothered to read the other outlets carefully, you would have read that.
Sort of like what a waste the Bush Administration was.
I'd rather have my tax money spent on this than that Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
I heard an interview with lead team member on this project and he repeatedly stated that no tax dollars are used for funding. He seem to know well ahead of time that the left and right would catagorically use this issue to bash one another.
Which news outlets? Please provide links.
If that is the case, then CNN has to answer for their poor journalism.
John- to back up your claim that other news agencies are stating that public funds are also going into this would you please post links to those articles (or at least let us know which agencies you are referring to)? I read about this on FoxNews.com and nothing in that article states that public funds are going into the expedition- only states that the State Dept is supportive of of the mission in hopes to find the truth to one of history's biggest mysteries.
So I am just curious where you have seen that the expedition has public funds involved? I just want to be every bit as informed as you!
closer? wow, you guys are nuts. everyone must think like you or they're wrong. liberal central here.
They are not using your tax dollars, they are using mine. I approve of this search.
They can have my war tax dollars to look for Amelia.
John: I don't approve of my tax dollars paying hugely profitable corporations in corrupt subsidies and no-bid war contracts.... but this...... oh wait..... it says... PRIVATELY FUNDED.....
The video and the article both clearly say this is a privately funded venture. Next thing you know you'll somehow vilify the President and the Dems and call Earhart a champion of Planned Parenthood. Go ahead we're waiting.
My thoughts exactly. The current Administration whether one is a supporter or not, must be responsible for everything, I'm surprised they aren't blaming Obama for the failed flight attempt; but give them time, they will find a way to place fault @ his doorstep.
Blaming Obama for everything is simply extending the liberal policy of blaming Bush for everything that occurred in his 8 years as President. You reap what you sow, and the rules you apply to your enemy can easily be applied to you.
No Cynthia, its George Bush's fault. We have much more and important things to blame the currrent Pres. He is destroying out country. Believe it or not.
so quick to forget, this is a Lib rag so its all Bush's fault, its always been Bush's fault it will always be Bush's fault. If this was Fox then it would be Mr O's fault.
Hah.. You are confused.. Obama admin will place this blame on Bush. Saying.. Why hasn't he done this on his watch"?
Obama as a child was playing on the beach of that atoll (I know it was well before his time, but fact don't matter to birthers anyways) and he ran in front of the plane as it was attempting an emergency landing and Amelia swerved to miss him and flipped the plane. Santorum supporters probably claim Noonan was actually flying amd Amelia was just on the plane as a stewardess anyways.
Anyways, if that is the enhanced photo the experts are looking at also, they have betters eyes than me.
Just like that lousy creep blames everything on GW or anyone else, other than himself. seems to be a pattern in DC.
Cynthia, wake up. Whining about Obama being blamed for everything? Were you awake during the W administration? He was blamed for everything that has happened and will happen in history. It doesn't matter which party has the White House, the other will be infantile in its opposition. It's time to tune out the extremists (of which you, in all your sensitivity, seem to be one) and let the moderates have the country back.
...from which he will immediately pick it up with a 10 foot pole and place it directly on Bush's doorstep
Not to worry. He'll just blame Bush.
Obama crashed Earhart's plane AND our country?? That's enough for me. No second term.
How about these words, John? "Gillespie said the photo was taken by a British survey team in October 1937 and had been seen by Earhart researchers many times" It doesn't say these are private photos and these photos have been seen by many people since 1937. The lead in to the article IS misleading, so quit being a know-it-all jerk.
Public Funded does not mean Government Funded. Public funding comes from fundraisers where people donate money to help support a project and has nothing to do with tax payers money.
Most people understand this, but then you have those people below here who can't grasp the larger picture and want to scream their taxes are going to things they don't approve (when nothing of the sort is actually happening at all) simply because they are incapable of thinking reasonably and logically for themselves w/o some talking head telling them their position.
It's privately funded
You are all morons.
All of us? Well, how does it feel to be standing all alone in the dazzling brilliance of your own sparkling intellect?
Not to worry republicans, because all your tax money goes to wars and subsidizing oil companies. Most of the really cool stuff like this search is done with donations from liberals and other good people who happen to like things like education and solving old mysteries like this one.
thank you sir!!
Good post byrd
Which explains the vast cuts in NASA and other scientific agencies by this administration. After all, they are at WAR on ignorance! Those villianous heatherns!
Tbis may come as a shock to you, but liberals arent the only ones who give money to science. Moron. Its people like you that contribute to the great divide in this country,
libs dont donate even a portion of what repubs donate. loser.
Next up: The search for Jimmy Hoffa is renewed due to the recent finding of a Teamsters ring imbedded in the dash of a Chrysler Imperial. With funding by the US Justice Department and the Teamsters Union, it is hoped that the mystery of Hoffa's disappearance will be solved.
Well, you're a little late because the MythBusters already did that with ground penetrating radar in Giants Stadium. You'd know that if you watched anything other than FOX.
So that's where they found Earhart's plane. Under Giants Stadium. Hmmmm, I never would have thought to look there. That's what I get for watching FOX.
The search for Jimmy Hoffa has never stopped. A few years ago they were digging around a barn in southeastern Michigan.
What a waste, even of private funds. Who gives a rats a$$ about finding it.
The private donors who have more disposable income than you (and me) obviously didn't think it was a waste of their money.
Probably a lot of people. Just because you don't doesn't make it irrelevant to everyone else. Where do you people come from? Why is this even a matter for debate? Read all the articles. There are many more besides this one. It is PRIVATELY FUNDED. Something the right should be applauding.
Most of us who appreciate science and history appreciate this sort of venture. Beer guzzling unemployed NRA supporters who live in trailers with a constantly pregnant wife don't care about this sort of research.
Discovery channels does.
And when they turn it into a tv special and turn a profit u should kiss their a$$ ( as u put it).
Lol. Hence, the word "Discovery".
One of the mysteries of the last century may be answered; good.
John, let's read even a little further than your 4 words before you give up and make an inaccurate judgement,, to wit: "the U.S. government will help in a privately funded search for Earhart's lost.. " keyword = HELP. I guess you think that doesn't mean funding. It does. Now YOU take a deep breath... tool.
"The Discovery Channel is supporting the venture, the report said." I guess you don't think that means Discovery is paying for it. It does. Tool.
Key words, privately funded. Idiot...
Highly disagree with you. Logistical support means getting permits, clearances from other governments and other such activities. Whoever can read can also look this up and see where there are other articles that clearly state no government funds will be added to this endeavor.