Most of us grew up learning that famous early aviation icon Amelia Earhart simply up and vanished on her quest to fly around the world in 1937. Departing from Papua New Guinea after an enjoyable stay, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan set a course for remote Howland Island in the Central Pacific, never to be seen or heard from again.
Or so the story goes.
Now, nearly 75 years after her disappearance, Discovery reports that teams of researchers are concluding that’s simply not the case.
At a recent three-day conference held by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery), researchers announced the existence of 57 credible radio signals originating from Earhart’s downed aircraft in the hours and days directly following her disappearance.
Amateur radio operators from Melbourne, Australia, to Honolulu, Hawaii, are reported to have picked up faint transmissions containing the call sign of Earhart’s Electra aircraft, KHAQQ, and various military ships in the region also reported garbled transmissions believed to be those of a crash-landed Amelia Earhart.So here’s the new story:
Amelia Earhart didn’t just overshoot Howland Island, run out of gas and crash into the sea. She overshot Howland Island, nearly ran out of gas, but managed to land her aircraft on a remote atoll known today as Nikumaroro. With her aircraft still functioning properly she was able to initiate radio transmissions from inside the aircraft only when the sea water level was low enough to not reach the transmitter.
As it just so happens, recent research into the tidal swings of Nikumaroro atoll for the exact week of her disappearance show that the transmissions sent by Earhart coincide with the times at which the water level would have been low enough to operate the engine and the transmitter.
Eventually, however, the Electra aircraft would lose its battle with the sea, and so, too, would Earhart and Noonan lose their ability to communicate with the outside world.
While expeditions to Nikumaroro have been conducted in the past, the closest piece of evidence found is a jar of anti-freckle cream believed to have belonged to the long lost aviator.
[Photo credit: miss_rogue on Flickr]