Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane
Amelia Earhart with her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, before their fateful flight in which they disappeared.
July 24th, 2012
05:53 AM ET

Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane

A team of searchers looking for proof that Amelia Earhart crashed on a remote Pacific atoll 75 years ago were on their way back to Hawaii Tuesday without any concrete evidence to prove the aviation pioneer crashed on Nikumaroro.

"Big pieces of airplane wreckage were not immediately apparent," the group behind the search, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, said on its website.

"As is usually the case with field work, we’re coming home with more questions than answers. We are, of course, disappointed that we did not make a dramatic and conclusive discovery, but we are undaunted in our commitment to keep searching out and assembling the pieces of the Earhart puzzle," the website said.

The TIGHAR group left Honolulu on July 3 on its ninth effort to search for wreckage of the Lockheed Electra that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were flying when they disappeared on an around-the-world flight in 1937.

The group 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.

Earlier this year, the group said it had come upon new evidence placing Earhart on Nikumaroro.

In March it said new analysis of a photo taken three months after Earhart and Noonan were lost showed what might have been the landing gear of Electra on a Nikumaroro reef. And in June, it said a new study suggests that dozens of radio signals once dismissed were actually transmissions from Earhart’s plane.

The searchers said Monday that five days of underwater searches around Nikumaroro had not produced any obvious signs of Earhart's Electra.

"No big shiny silver airplane, obvious to all, but the data on the various storage devices may hold treasures," the group's blog said.

But much analysis remains to be done, they said.

"We have volumes of sonar data and many hours of high-definition video to review and analyze before we will know whether we found it," the group said on its website. "Due to the limitations of the technology, we were only able to see standard-definition video images during actual search operations. Now that we're examining the recorded high-definition video, we’re already seeing objects we want our forensic imaging specialist, Jeff Glickman, to look at. We’ll also be getting expert second opinions on our best sonar targets."

Meanwhile, there was once distinct sighting of Earhart on Tuesday - on Google.

The search engine saluted Earhart on what would have been her 115th birthday with a doodle of her standing alongside a plane with Google emblazoned on the underside of the wing.

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Filed under: Aviation • History • U.S. • World
soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. Doug

    Who's paying for this nonsense ?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Benjamin Franklin

      If you had done your research, you would have known that it is being privately funded. Then again, even if it was government funded, I'm sure that none of your tax dollars would have been used given you actually have to pay taxes for them to be used.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • tom

      Private donations.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Taffy Lewis

      It's privately funded

      July 24, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Oladaur

    Hopefully, there should be no weak link in the quest for the search if a proactive positive resuld is desired.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. doppler

    If they landed "safely" that would indicate the plane was largely intact. I am sure they would have secured the plane if it was still useful for communications. That said, if the tide swept the plane out to sea, it could have remained afloat for quite some time, meaning the plane could be anywhere within a hundred mile radius of the island or more. They will never find it with the limited funds they have.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeeper

    And for another $60,000,000 grant, we might be able to find an old shoe.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. jackola

    I would throw up if I find that my tax dollars are paying for this absurd search.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      When you go looking for your missing tax dollars try searching the deserts of Iraq and the mountain passes of Afghanistan for unexploded bombs and discarded weapons and equipment left behind by US forces. Not much historical or resale value on used bombs that cost $100K when new.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. wildone

    So many unsolved mysteries. So little time.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. grizzlybear

    Sorry Guys, TIGHAR is a privately funded organization. No tax dollars, no grants, just a group of people willing to put their money where their mouth is, and search for the truth to a mystery.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. DoWork

    In the time it takes to write your tax dollars questions, you could do a Google search showing this research is 100% private.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. MACT

    Wow!! And is Francisco Franco still dead?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. mark

    she never went anywhere

    July 24, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. JAB62

    Get back out there and keep looking. Don't come back until you find it. An old man in a dinghy with a metal detector could find that thing in 20 minutes.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Obsessive compulsive?

    "No big shiny silver airplane, obvious to all... " That's what they were expecting to find? Let it go for cryin' out loud.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. ron

    All that enters the mind when I read of crap like this is how many starving kids in the US could be fed with the money.
    People's priorities just seem to get lost in the real world.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Andthenwhat

      And then those starving kids will grow up and want others to pay for thier starving kids. If we keep letting poor people live, what's the motivation for the masses to improve?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne S.

      It doesn't me because it's privately funded. But what does bother me is our country always gives out to foreign countries in their time of need. Before our country doles out money to these foreign countries, they should be taking care of our own people first. Making sure that our children are fed and have their medical needs taken care of. We have given out umpteen dollars to these foreign countries over the years, and it's time to say enough is enough.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Owl96

      Its not like the money went down the drain. They had to buy supplies, fuel, and equipment. That money went to someone's business and helped to keep them employed. They were able to feed their children.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. iceload9

    Has anybody tried to google her?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. RSS

    All I can say is "oy." The things people waste their own money for. Next thing you know people will be trying to prove the President was born in Alaska.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
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