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. Uncle Spooge

    If I was a woman pilot I would hate that the most well known female pilot of all time was someone who accidentally got lost and was never seen again. I'm sure there are women to bring their planes and crews home safely every day that are overlooked for this one.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kristal

    there is massive money 2 b made upon discoverey of her plane -museum the likes plus its just humans want 2 know the facts

    July 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. snowdogg

    Like searching for Sasquatch, etc... futile.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob A.

      Like Sasquatch? Right. Except for the recorded history of Amelia Earhart...

      July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wb

    Gee, I thought certain they were going to find the tail section sticking straight up out of the ground alongside two skeletons, and an SOS sign made out of rocks. Give it up folks, the pieces of metal and bone are out there. We don't need to know where.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Told ya'


    July 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Doit yourself

    Since you're hiding under it, why don't you look for yourself. Those dogs are tired of you stealing their bones anyway.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. phearis

    I didn't think they would find anything. If she and her navigator somehow survived the crash, and made it to an island, they died decades ago and their bodies were claimed by the jungle. And after 75 years, the plane has long been dissolved by the ocean, turned into a coral reef or buried by the jungle. They're never going to find anything.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • NeutralMind

      Dissolved?! Metallic structure?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. F18

    the fact is she crashed the plane will never be found and she was in over her head

    July 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • peridot2

      @F18: Did you bother to read the article? Did you understand it? There were radio messages from her received all over the world that triangulate on the island they're searching.

      Or are you deficient?

      August 10, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sumguy

    "Big pieces of airplane wreckage were not immediately apparent," ..... actually NO pieces were apparent.
    The only thing these guys are successful at is getting sponsored to go on all expense paid vacations to the islands.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lighttraveler

    She crashed in the vicinity of the Marianas, married a teacher & native of Saipan before giving birth to one son & living out her life as a school teacher (Flying Fish) She enjoyed Star Trek, Star Wars & Big Bird, was a staunch supporter of PBS and scholastic books. Fact. Although you will never prove it as long as we hold out hope she crashed on her round the world flight & that was the end. There was much more to her story & Legacy.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. larry5

    Isn't it time to recognize Amelia Earhart and Capt. Fred Noonan for their service to the country during a time of imminent war? They risked their lives to gather information and paid the ultimate price. It's time to open up the government files and clear the air, don't you think?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Faxon

    There is not really much of a mystery. The plane crashed, and they died. How is that a mystery? How many US Servicemen are lost in the Pacific after the horrors of WWII?
    This woman already had her fame, and that was long ago. Sure, everybody loves a mystery, so let this one remain.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. marlou ordelt

    Come on now! Too many yrs have flown by and you still dont have clues or answers. Leave it alone. Tired of hearing it!!!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rationalist

    Good luck trying to find one plane in the South Pacific next to all of the other planes lying on the bottom from WWII.
    Let her and her navigator rest in peace.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pete

    Wasn't she killed by the Nazi's for being deaf and blind.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
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