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. Hot Carl

    So Fred Noonan was stranded on a remote island, Amelia Earhart was dead. The only other living things on the island were a dog and a goat. One day Fred decided to get busy with the goat, but every time he got going, the dog would chase him away, growling.
    This went on for months until one day a shipwreck survivor washed up on shore. She was the most beautiful woman Fred had ever seen. He brought her to dry land and after several days of unconsciousness Fred brought her around and it seemed she would make a full recovery.
    When she was healthy again, she said to Fred, "You saved my life, I don't think I could ever repay you. For that, I think the least I could do is offer myself to you. I'm sure it's been quite some time since you've had any contact with anyone. Tell me what you want and it's yours."
    Fred thought for a moment, got the most devilish look in his eyes and said, "You see that dog over there?"
    "Yes?" she said curiously.
    "How about taking him for a walk?" he said.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simple Jack

      Wha-wha-what kind of d-d-dog wa-wa-was it?

      July 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • spike

      Now that was funny! But is it true? We must search for evidence!

      July 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeeper

    More people are jealous of her.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 1amazed1

    I had such high hopes that they would find something, anything. Maybe they will go back and try again. It would be nice is the USA government would help out with their technology to scan the deep waters around the island.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rogerfeeley

      In my view, the US government did what it should have in this matter. The State Department smoothed the way with visas and permits and such. This effort was privately funded and represents nothing of national interest. While I share your curiosity about AE's fate, I don't see any reason to expend tax dollars.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I agree. How hard would it be for the US Pacific fleet to task a ship to do sonar "training" around Nikumaroro Island? Gotta test out the sonar and get the technicians certified anyway, might as well have one ship do it there.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • nisroc00

      I agree but after 75 years it would be slim of searching waters if you ask me. If I am right those water carry strong currents.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. therealchella

    what if they DID find smthg, or else they already have smthg they couldve claimed to have found – but were waiting to see what kind of headline they should run with this story. Today they went with the "we came up empty" headline and this is some kind of a signal, a sign of sorts to somebody out there that "it is NOT a go". Media does this once in a while.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Calcommuter

    For backers to make some money on this failed venture, look for an upcoming Discovery Channel special "Amelia Earhart, Found?" With emphasis on the question mark. For an hour they will show the search intertmixed with 45 minutes of stock footage and history. Then, with 3 minutes to go, it will be revealed THEY FOUND NOTHING! NADA, ZIP, ZERO, BUPKIS, SQUAT!!

    July 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • blueyeddevil

      Carl Bupkis? My great uncle?

      July 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Guess we will have to wait a year for TIGHAR's next big media blitz announcing they have found an eyelash wand on a beach somewhere.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      These three replies have me roaring!
      Thanks!

      July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RObert

    Hot Carl: LOL

    July 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. American munchkin brain

    De plane! De plane! That, and "ding dong the witch OBL is dead"

    July 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jenni

    She died in a plane crash in an ocean on Planet Earth??? Just a wacky guess

    July 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • frontgate

      Oh, you're just a wacky kind of person.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. xfiler93

    and the mystery lives on.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jorge washinsen

    It has been almost 75 years but I think the plane will be found in deep water in one piece Probably ran out of fuel, With extra fuel tanks and empty could have landed in the sea and floated for a while.Big ocean.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Johnny

    The odds of them ever finding something are remote. The Pacific is massive and it would be a miracle if any of the wreckage ever made it to land and still remains. I'm still surprised that Tom Hanks got off that island in "Cast Away" !

    July 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jim

    I dont get what is such a mystery.
    She didnt arrive at her destination. Therefore she crashed.
    What is the difference exactly where she crashed, especially after all this time?

    July 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HAHA

    Amelia Earhart never existed. It was all a myth propagated by the commies and Saddam Hussein.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Floyd Caveman

    Actually, this is what life is supposed to be about – the freedom to persue your interests. Instead we're constantly having to endure F dup dictators, f dup football coaches, F dup wackos slipping into movie theaters...

    July 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SHE AND HER COPILOT WERE BEHEADED

    AND THE PLANE CHOPPED UP AND THROWN IN THE OCEAN.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
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