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. Kathmandu91

    In a way, I hope they never find out for sure. It adds to the allure of her already-fascinating story. If Thomas More was a "man for all seasons," surely Amelia Earhart was a woman to match.

    July 3, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. mitch62

    Interesting....these comments. When I was a kid, I read every book I could get my hands on about Amelia Earhart. In 1972, as a third grader, this was an inspiring woman to me. There weren't that many to look up that were accesssable enough that there was a book in the library about them (in the pre-internet days, rememer.) My imagination went wild about the possibilities of what happened to her – it's one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries. She was an exceptional woman to achieve what she did... in the 1930s. Her loss was on a par with the Shuttle Challenger Crash, and the world was watching her attempt to fly around the world. I don't think it will spoil anything to solve the mystery... it can only add to the richness of the story.

    July 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Marty

      Well said Mitch62!!!

      July 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Shagih

      Well typed. It would close a hole in a lot of people hearts that's been wondering "where is she" all these years.

      July 3, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Wow.

    Wow. I can't believe the comments some of you are making. Who cares? Really? Go back to your reality shows and pollute the gene pool more, you geniuses. Amelia was insanely famous at the time, and lets not forget it was 1937, female role models were in short supply. Losing her was huge.

    Just because you're too dumb to know the facts does not make it insignificant.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gary

    It is so cool to see this mystery finally unfolded.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. explainist

    If I was a gambler, I would bet a nickel the "who cares" bunch can name every player on a dozen sports teams and has tonights TV lineup memorized, but could not find a book using the Dewey decimal system

    July 3, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • guest

      I less-than-three you.

      July 3, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Candy

    I hope they find something and can finally lay to rest what actually happened to them. I think this is very exciting.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Centaur

    By my interpretation of the given times, Earhart’s plane struck the Earth’s surface at night. That would likely have been a splash into the sea rather than a landing on an island.

    It is stated in Wikipedia that Earhart departed Lea, New Guinea on 1937 JUL 02 at midnight GMT. I’ll assume that means 00:00 UT. GMT is an ambiguous term, especially when applied during the first half of the twentieth century. In aviation UT, GCT or Z “Zulu” time is used; those terms are synonymous. The article later refers to GCT. I’ll use the more modern term UT. Wikipedia times her last radio transmission as 8:43 am, which I will assume to mean 08:43 UT.

    Howland Island and Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) are both slightly east of the International Dateline where the local time zone is twelve hours behind from that of the Greenwich Prime Meridian. 1937 JUL 02 at 08:43 UT would have been 1937 JUL 01 at 20:43 (8:43 pm) in the local time zone of those islands. The Sun would have set for Gardner Island at 05:38 UT and for Howland Island at 05:55 UT.

    At the time of Earhart’s last radio transmission the Sun would have been down for about three hours and she would have been flying in pitch darkness. The Moon was not above the horizon.
    I can’t imagine how she could have landed her plane on Gardner Island during a moonless night.

    July 3, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • SlayFalseGod

      crashed in the water; didnt land on the island ; picture reportedly shows landing gear off the beach; probably badly injured and died later.

      July 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • notsofast

      is it possible, just maybe, that at the time of her last transmission she had indeed already landed and was using the radio on the plane while moored?

      it sounds like you WANT to believe she crashed into the sea, and are bent on making the facts fit your theory. do you at least concede that she could have been on the ground already?

      July 4, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • tannim

      In July, the sunset in that neck of the woods would ahve been about 8PM local, so if they had to set down, it would have still been daylight. Besides, had it been night, she would have seen the ships lit up like Xmas trees.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. Danny

    You know, I hate to inform this poor guys but I think she is dead.

    July 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Duke

      But that won't stop them from trying to scam some money.

      July 4, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Heinz M

    Her 'last days on earth'? Personally I would give a Million to One odds she, i.e. her remains, is still here.

    July 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wat's da point?

    Clues at the bottom of the sea? Bones?

    July 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • tannim

      Fuselage, duh.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Solo

    Oh, what most people don't know about history and Ms. Earhart – she had stepped on a lot of people to get her plane in the air and wasn't kind to those who tried to encourage her – she saw everyone as the enemy and had an incredible ego. I don't think she's a role model, nor a reason to spend money searching for clues in the middle of the sea.

    July 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Walrus Dali

    X-tra time is needed to buy TOOTHPASTE?!
    And these geniuses are looking for a missing person from 75 yrs ago!

    July 4, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    Not sure why cnn.com will not allow me to post anything relating to the general ignorance of commentators here, seeing as so many other do the same thing without being flagged, but whatever: the Earhart Project does not follow standard scientific research methods and is not a credible research project. Look it up. And stop mouth breathing. Thanks.

    July 4, 2012 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      > is not a credible research project. Look it up.

      The burden of proof lies on the one making the claim. Spouting an unsupported opinion and then telling the audience to do your research to back your claim isn't quite how it works.

      July 5, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. eroteme

    It is always nice to hear of new clues about Earhart. Pretty soon we will learn no more can be found? I doubt it.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bobby Dias

    So what? She was in an act of fraud- pretending to be the pilot while somebody else was the pilot. She was not the pilot of the flight across the Atlantic but she made a ton of money pretending to be the first female aviator to do that- poetic justice is that when she really got greedy by pretending to be the pilot again is when the plane went down.

    July 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
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