Earhart Explorers Gather Data, Not Answers

A multimedia expedition to find the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane has failed to achieve immediate results. Investigators failed to spot any wreckage but have collected extensive sonar and video data for further analysis.

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, making her a celebrity of her day. In 1937 she attempted to fly a crewed mission around the world with what would have then been the longest circumnavigational route, sticking closely to the Equator.

On a second attempt, Earhart and colleague Fred Noonan (pictured) flew east from California and had made it as far as the Nukumana Islands in the Pacific. Staff at the next scheduled stop on Howland Island lost communication and, despite a US Navy search, neither the crew nor their plane were seen again.

Now the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery has conducted a $2.2 million expedition looking for signs of the wreckage. They are exploring the theory that Earhart may have crash landed on or near the island of Nikumaroro (perhaps on a reef flat) and survived for some time. Earlier visits have found items that may have come from the plane, including what could have been Earhart’s shoe. A 1937 photograph showed what may have been the plane’s landing gear in the water.

The expedition was cut from 10 to five days after problems maintaining the equipment under water, including multiple accidents. Though staff didn’t spot any wreckage, that doesn’t mean they didn’t come across it. The video equipment used only allows “live” viewing at standard definition, but records in high definition. That footage will now be reviewed by a forensic imaging specialist.

The project team hopes to have more conclusive findings from the sonar data and video recordings in time for an August 19 documentary airing on the Discovery Channel.

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