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. Bob

    This is an interesting theory but from everything I've read her last transmission was in the vicinity of Howland Island which is 400 miles from Nikumaroro. She sounded frantic and was clearly running ouf gas. Not enough time to go 400 miles. This was picked up by a Navy ship in that vicinity. Odds are her plane is in 3 miles of water somewhere off Howland island.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • barbara

      That's a great piece of information. You would hope that this group would know this! Have they in fact searched around the Howland islands?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. barbara

    If the plane got washed out to sea, do they really think it would still be around the island.... wouldn't the pieces or the whole plane been carried away by currents, etc.? The best place to look for evidence would be the island itself...to see if Amelia left any indications they were there. Also, even if the navy (at the time) didn't see the plane... I'm sure Earhart would have put some kind of SOS on the beach.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. jk

    This has to be the least interesting "mystery" I ever heard of. It's no mystery at all that her plane crashed. We already know what the plane was and who was in it. The odds of any wreckage telling us anything useful about the cause of the accident are nil. This is about ego, not information, and that's why we keep reading about some pointless group's continual failure to prove their uninteresting theory.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Who cares about this? Maybe they should mount a search to find someone actually interested in this. Can we mount a search for the Cat Lady's brain?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hingedlwnb

    Thanks for the announcement that nothing's changed in 75 years.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Toad 390

    I am betting she is dead. What a waste of space, slow news day?

    July 24, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Who gives a ratz ass. STOP looking and reporting about one old missing woman and START looking for AND reporting about our 500 children PER DAY that have been going unnacounted for for years!
    Do the math. MILLIONS of children totally unaccounted for over the past years. Poof! Gone. NEVER to be seen or heard from again.
    Where'd they go? Why are we focused on one old lady with so many of our own children still missing?

    July 24, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat Lady

      What about the CATS? They are MY missing children. Why would you let the children eat the cats? I'm sorry that they're missing, but eating a cat is never the answer.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Skippy

    The cynic in me says, "turn away, this is never gonna be solved! Waste of time and money." But the romantic inside the cynic hopes someone finds a note in a bottle.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    Why is so much money spent on the dead? Money is for living people who need it to stay alive. Dead people don't need it to stay dead...or come back to life for that matter. Human priorities....wow.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    @Susan 10:53. You speak of "government and private searches for missing children". Were you even aware of the DOJ reporting 500 children PER DAY gone missing NEVER to be seen again?
    And name me thses "government and private" searches for these MILLIONS of missing kids, AND HOW DID THEY NOT FIND 500 PER DAY, and why are these statistics NEVER reported by major media?

    July 24, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Christopher Wood

    I saw Amelia, Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa chillin' at a Starbucks in Ankeny, Iowa!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. pthomas

    If none of you care why did you take the time to read the story? The headline clearly indicates there is no new information so why would you waste your time to read and then comment on a topic you have no interest in? I

    July 24, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. What did you say

    All the hype and build up to this search and this is what we get? About as bad as Geraldo and the secret safe.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. happygolucky

    What's wrong having some fun? It's a puzzle waiting to be solved. Much better than spending the money to "keep us safe".

    July 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Think BIG (millions of missing children) rather than small (one old lady).
    And think NATIONAL, not personal @ pthomas.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Boswell

      Phillip, the TIGHAR group is an underwater archaeology outfit, specializing in aviation search and recovery. Are you suggesting that they use their ships, oceanography skills, antique aviation knowledge, nautical maps, and remote-controlled underwater submersibles to search for missing children in Iowa?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. eroteme

    Amelia Earhart's fate still a mystery? No kidding? How interesing! Oh well, maybe next week.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Lardeau

      What does that atoll look like ?? They say some evidence of a cosmetic-type jar was found there. Why wouldn't they put a very small crew out there to camp and really scour the area on foot – and be done with this place and this one theory ? After all if you were coming in for a forced landing in a limited area there is only going to be a small part of that atoll where you could 'ditch'.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • What did you say

      I am willing to bet she is dead... I mean if we are deciding her fate.. I am sticking with that one. Call me crazy!

      July 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
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