Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed
New discoveries may help answer questions about what happened to Amelia Earhart.
June 3rd, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed

A mystery that has enthralled Americans for nearly a century may be on its way to being solved.

New evidence released Friday revealed clues that may solve the mystery of what happened to aviator Amelia Earhart, Discovery News reports.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery announced that a new study suggests that dozens of radio signals once dismissed were actually transmissions from Earhart’s plane after she vanished during her attempted around-the-world flight in 1937.

The announcement was made at the start of a three-day conference in Washington dedicated to Earhart and the group’s search for the famous aviator’s remains and the wreckage of her plane.

On the conference website, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery called Earhart’s unanswered distress calls “The smoking gun that was swept under the rug.”

Discovery News reported that the group has determined 57 “credible” radio transmissions from Earhart after her plane went down.

It has been researching the disappearance of Earhart, her navigator, Fred Noonan, and her Lockheed Electra aircraft for 24 years. Its members have developed a theory that Earhart’s remains lie on Nikumaroro Island in the Western Pacific.

Nikumoro Island, then called Gardner’s Island, had been uninhabited since 1892, the group said. In its version of Earhart’s final days, she and Noonan landed there after failing to find another island. They landed safely and radioed for help, the hypothesis goes. Eventually, the Electra was swept away by the tide, and Earhart and Noonan could no longer use its radio to call for help. U.S. Navy search planes flew over the island, but not seeing the Electra, they passed on and continued the search elsewhere.

The discovery of what is believed to be an old jar of anti-freckle cream may also provide clues to this decades-old mystery. It is suspected that the cosmetic bottle found on Nikumaroro Island once belonged to Earhart.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery will launch an expedition to Nikumaroro Island on July 2, the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance. This is their ninth expedition.

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soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. casey

    Man I hate to think what would happen if they were to find it. Finding a dead woman as a skeleton in an aviator uniform or whatever, whoa man...

    June 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vancouverron

    Wasn't there a movie about how she was stranded on an island and befriended a volleyball she named "Winston"?

    June 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DGupNorth

    leftywriteagain – thank you for posting. You have just proven the debate over who is racist.

    June 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. noonan

    She was just a crappy pilot and he was a subpar navigator. She cracked that plane up a couple of times after she got it.

    June 4, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      So what?

      June 4, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • fuzzynormal

      Well dang Fred, why didn't you help her out?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. john

    if her plane was swept off the beach it could be wya out from the island, but I would check for metal readings for sure, and include the whole isand. then use ground penitrating radar.

    June 4, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. 123elle

    When it comes to female pioneer pilots, I find the life of Beryl Markham far more interesting than Amelia's. If you goodle her you can see her incredible accomplishments, which include being a terrific writer. Her book "West With the Night" describing her life, includes her lone flight west across the Atlantic, utterly incredible. She raced horses, survived a lion attack as a young girl unhurt, and was also a striking beauty with a list of fascinating lovers. She was a free spirit with a fascinating personality who never shied away from controversy and feared nothing. A real role model for me. As the daughter of apilot, I never flew myself, but I was fortunate to benefit from being near that incredible vision that pilots have.

    June 4, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      If Earhart had survived and been rescued, we would probably be more familiar with Markham. Unfortunately for Ms. Markham the mystique of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has fueled her popularity.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Peter

    What a sad story. She was probably alive for years on that island. Horrible recovery incompetence.

    June 4, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Owl96

      Was it really incompetence? Aviation was still young, modern search and rescue methods and equipment were non-existent, no radar, no GPS, and there was a lot less knowledge about parts of the earth. The flight was a risky endeavor, and it ended badly. They missed their target, and really no one knew where they ended up. Could you have done better with the equipment and knowledge of that day?

      June 4, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      At least to me, the incompetence was skipping an island that was a potential landing spot.

      June 4, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Really? It was 1937. Do you think the technology back then was similar to today?

      June 4, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Karol Bucogier

      Not necessarily, Peter. Check the island on Google Earth. It's very small and may not even have fresh water. A person inexperienced in foraging for food in the wild would have a difficult time. They likely would have dehydrated or starved to death quickly.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • justuandi

      I totally agree. I mean send a ship or vessel? The technology existed then for searching. My guess, it could be politics being played in its early stage, or no funding. 57 messages? thats a lot to ignore that the person is not alive and well on the island that only warranted a fly-by. We will never know the true scope of why it went ignored. My previous comment is moot if they could not make heads-or-tails from the messages back then and only because of present technology we were able to clean up the static.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. The Thinker

    Quick, send Bob Ballard. He'll find a piece of metal, along with an "expert" to declare "it's Ms Earhart's"... Sorry, I'm still LOL'ing at Ballard's PT109 "discovery".

    June 4, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tony in STL

    Geez, after reading some of these comments there's no wonder that society is really is going to crap! This is very interesting news, to those of us who are interested. If not, why bother even commenting? If I could get a message to Amelia, I'd tell her to stay where she is. She's probably much better off! RIP

    June 4, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. David

    The Tri-County Amateur Radio Club WC5C has been equipping to go to Nikumaroro and test the radio transmissions, and but for the funds for transportation, will be going. The post loss transmissions were discounted at the time, but the desperation of her loss, survival and demise certainly underscore the incredible importance of radio proficiency. We hope we can find someone to help us go there and conduct this test that will involve many thousands of participants. Her ongoing inspiration for the aspiration to greatness is also quite the testimony to the need for all citizens to be radio ready to cooperate!

    June 4, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      David, have you folks contacted TIGHAR? Since they intend to mount an expedition to the island, it seems like your groups could join forces. I'm sure they'd be interested in the results of your test.

      June 4, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • DE

      What test do you plan?

      Amelia used 3105. Don Dwiggins, in his biography of Paul Mantz (who assisted Earhart and Noonan in their flight planning), noted that the aviators had cut off their long-wire antenna, due to the annoyance of having to crank it back into the aircraft after each use. This prior from their departure from Lae. This is the antenna that would be used for 3105.

      Also: the 50-watt transmitter used by Earhart was attached to a less-than-optimum-length remaining V-type antenna.

      No antenna or bad antenna equals very weak signal. Now put them landed on an island. Their Electra was sitting in water according to Gillespie or possibly on a beach waiting to be washed out to sea. Just how a readable signal on 3105 would be transmitted? Not very good conditions. Up in the air a bit better for signal strength.

      During Earhart and Noonan's approach to Howland Island the Itasca received strong and clear voice transmissions from Earhart. Because of propagation characteristics of 3105 this would indicate that she was very close. Where earlier in the flight neither Lae or the Itasca could head her.

      Transmissions: Some of these transmissions were hoaxes but others were deemed authentic. Bearings taken by Pan American Airways stations suggested signals originating from several locations. Sporadic signals were reported for four or five days after the disappearance but none yielded any understandable information. The captain of the Colorado later said "There was no doubt many stations were calling the Earhart plane on the plane's frequency, some by voice and others by signals. All of these added to the confusion and doubtfulness of the authenticity of the reports.

      June 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dajowi

    Amelia was an accomplished pilot at a time when women weren't expected to be.

    If she hadn't disappeared chances are she'd only be a historical footnote – not an icon.

    Life is more interesting with a little mystery. I hope they never find her or her airplane.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Columbus

      With more people like you in the world it shall be declared flat again...what kind of moron wouldn't want her found she was still a person.

      June 4, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. DE

    Wow!!! Gillespie and TIGHAR have another new theory and funds for another vacation to the Pacific.
    All his theories and so called finds have been disproved. His last was that he found Amelia's finger in the sand. His own hired independent research stated that the "finger" most likely is from a turtle but maybe in the future with new techniques a new conclusion might be made.

    Amelia's landed then her Electra was washed out to the sea. But a small piece of aluminum from it was not washed out to sea. Gillespie's famous piece of aluminum find was discounted after inspection and research by Lockheed. No way could it come from Amelia's Lockheed Electra.

    Gillespie has already or attempted to perform a sonar search in the ocean around the island. Nothing found because of several "problems" during the search.

    The sole of a shoe, melted glass, missing skeleton and more fairy tails from Gillespie. Then there was Amelia's grave on the island. Only problem it was the grave of a child.

    As for Amateur Radio (ham radio) Gillespie had a amateur team several years back. I am a ham and talked with Gillespie when he was on the island. Oct 12 1989 on 20 meters

    June 4, 2012 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • dashikirona

      As a senior citizen I rencently joing this TIGHAR team of Ric Gillespie....they sent me a few pieces of literature that offered a trip to a crashed WWII airplane in Idaho...very expensive trip that I could see as a rip off as they wanted $2500 for four (4) days that did not even include airfare to the site of the crash. As an avid metal detector, I am already espienced with much of the equipment needed to find Earhardt's plane but I could not secure a spot going on the trip. A complete ripoff as they took me for $55 bucks when a senior membership is only $45. They kept my extra $10. My loss. Sounds like a get rich scheme perpetrated by Gillespie...LOL

      June 4, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hadenuffyet

    So is this pursuit really going help anyone , anywhere? She disappeared and died , leave it to the annals of history and move on....

    June 4, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Clarence

    With all due respect. The fenimine twist of aviator is (I believe) aviatrix. Right? Amelia Earhart's name has not faded with time. She was a gutsy lady. Brave and bold. Even after 75 years she still stands out for the courageous woman she was. Hey, Amelia. Rest in peace!

    June 4, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • MT

      Only for people who insist on having a special word to call out gender. Aviator isn't gender-specific. Aviatrix was common when people were surprised a woman could fly a plane. I think we've moved past that archaic convention (for anyone less than, say, 70 years old).

      Plus, it also makes it seem like you're flying whilst wearing a skin-tight black leather suit and carrying a whip. I mean, you MIGHT be, but let's not assume.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Robert Richards

    The winner gets to write the History Book.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
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