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. Bones McCoy

    She's Dead, Jim.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • The Joker

      Why so serious?!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. uniblob

    "No big shiny silver airplane, obvious to all, but the data on the various storage devices may hold treasures,"

    Way to keep hope (and funding) alive.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. kc in nc

    Keep looking, this story is fascinating.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      I know, I know you're a busy dog, but if you've got a second, we'd love to pitch you an idea for your show. Tom's better pitching, I'll let him take it from here. Tommy's got the spotlight!

      [Tom clears throat]

      Wait for it...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom


      July 24, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      Oh, snap!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      Holla back!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bolt


    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tom

    Audiences love aliens.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Just An Observer

    Two tid bits for interest. Friend of mine who was an aircraft collector claimed to have gotten procession of the "twin" to her Electra which he claimed was built for Lindbergh ? which Lindbergh used to visit pre-war Germany. He claimed it was full of concealed camera compartments which would raise questions about her version. So, apparently Lindbergh was doing a bi of "sightseeing" as he toured the German airbases. Rumor has always had it that Amelia was doing the same
    in the Pacific ?
    Also when I was a kid in Florida my mother claimed that a local street charter was Amelia. See was a "twin" if not, and was very reclusive. One day my mother kind of raised he voice as she saw her on the street and asked "Amelia ?" The woman turned, looked startled, and we never saw her again. So, something to add to the myth : )

    July 24, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeeper

      He should have taken some pictures of the Lock-Ness monster while he had the plane.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    I understand the initial fascination with this, but not the longevity of it. She was flying around the world, in a time when it was not really the norm, she crashed in the ocean somewhere, and sank to the crushing depths of the pacific. Does it really matter exactly where she and Fred went into the drink? Does anyone really care?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hobbits

    It's no mystery at all. She was flying, crashed, and died – mystery solved.

    Yes – she likely got lost, ditched the plane on an atoll and either died then or shortly thereafter. The other option is that she ditched in the ocean and some of her belongings washed up on shore near an atoll but she was still dead.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. snowdogg

    Not sure about all the interest in Earhart... pretty much a second-rate aviator [by contemporary accounts]. I can only suppose that the few who feel the need to solve the "mystery" are keeping the drama alive to procure more funding.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    So, she's still dead. If she had stayed in the kitchen, making sandwiches, she wouldn't have crashed in to the pacific. Problem?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Rothman

      Chicken sandwhiches?

      July 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pinebelt Bob

    Stop giving these searchers money and they will lose interest in solving the mystery.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. mgee

    Did they see any signs of the SS Minnow, Gilligan, or the Skipper? And has their research answeered the burning question..."Ginger of Marianne?"

    July 24, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • vonxx

      They would have better luck finding them..

      July 24, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. mgee

    did it ever occur toanybody that emilia and fred might have wanted some privacy and quality time together?

    July 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • JPX

      Why does anyone still care about this? Amelia Earhart was a misguided individual who pursued a pointless endeavor and died because of it. Spend your research money on something worthwhile, not this nonsense.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      JPX: It's their money, privately raised. Let them spend it how they want. It may have been a long time ago, but Earhart's disappearance captivated the nation.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. opinion

    Seriuosly, who cares!!!!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. tm1946

    If Ms Earhart were still alive, she would have the biggest laugh ever. Come and find her if you can, start in Atchison KS, then search the world.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
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