Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?
Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan before they famously disappeared in 1937.
July 2nd, 2012
02:04 PM ET

Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?

A deep-sea expedition will launch from the shores of Honolulu on Tuesday in an attempt to solve the mystery of vanished aviator Amelia Earhart, according to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery.

The group will launch its Niku VII expedition 75 years after the first ship set sail in search of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan and their Lockheed Electra aircraft.

The initial launch was set for Monday, but was pushed back to Tuesday because of a scarcity of flights to Hawaii, according to the expedition’s daily reports Web page.

“Meanwhile, the technical staff is very glad of the extra day,” a recent blog post from the group said. “There are always glitches, stuff that doesn’t work quite the way it should, tests that need to be run, toothpaste to be bought, and the additional time will allow for these issues to be resolved while still in port where there are stores and cell phones and other markers of modern civilization.”

Once out of the port, the crew will set sail for Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific, where researchers believe Earhart landed, was stranded and ultimately met her death during her doomed attempt at an around-the-world flight in 1937.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery has been investigating the mystery surrounding Earhart’s death for 24 years, has launched eight prior expeditions and has developed a comprehensive theory of her disappearance and last days on earth.

“This is the hi-tech deep water search we’ve long wanted to do but could never afford,” the group said on its website. The expedition is funded by corporate sponsors and charitable donations.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery theorizes that Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro Island - then called Gardner’s Island - after failing to find a different South Pacific island they were set to land on. The pair is believed to have landed safely and called for help using the Electra’s radio. And in a twist of fate, the plane was swept out to sea, washing away Earhart and Noonan’s only source of communication. U.S. Navy search planes flew over the island, but not seeing the Electra, passed it by and continued the search elsewhere.

"What makes this the best expedition is the technology we've been able to assemble to search for the wreckage of that airplane," Rick Gillespie, executive director for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, told CNN on Monday. "We have an autonomous vehicle. We have multibeam sonar above the University of Hawaii ship we're on right now. We have a remote-operated vehicle to check out the targets (and a) high-definition camera. We're all set."

At a conference in Washington, D.C., last month, the organization announced its newest study suggesting that dozens of radio signals once dismissed were actually transmissions from Earhart’s plane after she vanished. Discovery News reported that the group has discovered there were 57 “credible” radio transmissions from Earhart after her plane went down.

Earlier this year, the organization also discovered what is believed to be a cosmetics jar once belonging to Earhart on Nikumaroro Island.

"All these things we can't explain unless the woman we think was there, was there," Gillespie said.

More on Amelia Earhart:

Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed

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Filed under: Aviation • History
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. JOe M

    History is important. I hope they succeed

    July 2, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Historian

    By extension of the rational expressed in several postings appearing under this topic, Roald Amundsen, Neil Armstrong, Daniel Boone, Richard Byrd, John Cabot, Samuel De Champlain, Christopher Columbus, James Cook, Hernán Cortés, Vasco daGama, Francis Drake, Leif Eriksson, John Glenn, Henry Hudson, LaSalle, Lewis & Clark, Charles Lindbergh, David Livingstone, Magellan, Marco Polo, Sally Ride, Sacagawea, Valentina Tereshkova, Amerigo Vespucci, Robert Peary, Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were all losers. But considering that the United States ranks 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • shemp howard

      nuts to you!

      July 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert Lockwood Mills

    The comments her about TIGHAR are misinformed at best, childish at worst. Ric Gillespie operated for years without corporate funding, on a bare-bones budget. He depended on expedition participants (such as yours truly) for donations, while pursuing his dream of finding long-lost airplanes.

    I participated in three expeditions with Ric in Maine, looking for "L'Oiseau Blanc," a French bi-plane that disappeared somewhere on the North American mainland while competing with Charles Lindbergh in the trans-Atlantic race in 1927. Based on my suggestion (and others'), he took up the Earhart search, and has succeeded in solving a historical mystery. How about giving him credit, instead of sniping at him with ignorant comments?

    July 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      "Succeeded in solving..."

      Ain't that a bit premature? Until they find the aircraft it's still only speculation.

      July 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. john

    For those thinking this is a waste of money, let me explain:

    Choice #1: Give this money to those who need help thereby alleviating some pain and suffering. The human race is left no more informed and a mystery goes unsolved. Also, those who would have been employed and working to carry out this search will join those unemployed in the bread lines. In short, we are all worse off.

    Choice #2: Take this money and create some JOBS looking to answer this mystery. These jobs support families and create taxes thereby keeping people OFF of welfare and out of the bread lines while helping to support programs for those who are receiving public assistance. And to top it all off, the human race learns something in the process.

    I like choice #2.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MominNC

    Stop with the hurtful comments. If you've nothing nice or relevant to say then don't post. There are people who care about the search for Amelia, I am one. My pilot Aunt, Lois Neel, personally knew and flew with Amelia. I care what happened because Amelia was a direct influence on my family. Have some respect, please.
    ...and to the searchers, my best wishes follow you.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dionysus86

    Who really cares where Amelia Earhart is? She knew the risks when she chose her profession, and if her descendants haven't made peace with it yet I don't think they ever will.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. josh rogen

    with so many woman in the world enslaved and treated as property...to find her now would be an inspiration

    July 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      An inspiration to whom? The enslaved women? Highly unlikely; I think they'd rather they be found and rescued themselves.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • halo1322

      @josh rogen:
      While I find Amelia's exploits inspirational, I'm afraid the connections you've made about enslavement and being treated as property make absolutely no sense whatsoever...
      Your grasp of historical interpretation is severely skewed...
      Ms.Earhart was trying to prove that a woman could do things as significant as her male counterparts during a time when such views were not as politically vogue as they are today.
      Learn from her example rather than trying to fit her behavior into your narrow biased mold!

      halo1322

      July 3, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. KM

    It is an important historical reference and mystery that has yet, remained unsolved. If rich people desire to lend their wealth to this matter what concern is that to you? Those of you whining about the method in which the money is being spent didn't earn said wealth and therefore have no claim as to how it is to be spent. The petty, backbiting, unabased jealousy of some people transcends the concept of what it means to be pathetic. Please, if you would, you and your "occupy" crowd get a life and leave normal people alone...

    July 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonline

      The island was occupied you fool. There were women there. Where is the tricle down?

      July 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Well said!

      July 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeeper

      What is "tricle"?

      July 3, 2012 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Turk

    Tutuvabene
    I have actually heard some have recently begun a mass effort in the search for her remains currently in Timbuktu!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ralph

    Amelia decided to become an aviatrix not because of her love of flying but because of her love for herself. She figured she could manipulate the media to get a one way ticket out of small town and become public a media star. This she did. But at some point such a person has to pay the price; in this case it was a failure and death.

    She did not want to go on this last flight – hardly a recipe for success. She was forced into it by her husband the publisher Putnam because he figured he'd get rich off the flight. She was saddled with an alcoholic navigator so between her limited flying skills and his disease it's small wonder they crashed on some out of the way island. Amelia killed herself for a short life of fame.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    It is the human trait of inquisitiveness that sets us apart from other species. It is what drove Ms. Earhart to fly great distances and drives scientists to seek cures for disease and other advances. It drove Columbus and other explorers to reach out into the unknown. It drives the astronauts and the space program. It is that same trait which drives those looking for answers to this and other age-old questions. It is the lack of this basic human trait which drives the negative comments posted here. The lack of imagination and the concurrent lack of drive to seek, to explore, to find, explains their responses.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    What is the scrap metal value of a Lockheed Electra?

    July 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Piers Morgan, Supervillain

      Forget the scrap metal prices, sell any recovered pieces of it on Ebay for 1000 times the price of the scrap metal.

      July 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Turk

    I respect her for the ambition and guts. Not to be so long winded, but its hardly comparable to landing on the moon, or curing cancer.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • peter

      For the time it was very brave and daring, indeed!

      July 3, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
    • peter

      Really? and which of these things did you do?

      July 3, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. jimmydemello

    I hope the expedition is successful.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jake

    Amazing. Every single time they run a story about Amelia Earhart someone invariable mentions that forgettable episode from Star Trek Voyager. There used to be a casino in Las Vegas that paid tribute to all things Star Trek. I went there once. People spoke Klingon.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
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