Search For Amelia Earhart Begins In South Pacific

In the beginning of June we told you about new research that seemed to indicate that famous aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan not only survived a crash in the South Pacific back in 1937, but also made numerous attempts to radio for help. Armed with those findings a search team launched an expedition earlier this week with the aim of exploring the tiny atoll that they believe was the final resting place for the duo.

Earhart and Noonan went missing on July 2, 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the planet by airplane. When they last made radio contact they were searching for Howland Island where they were planning on refueling for their flight across the Pacific. They never arrived at Howland and what exactly became of them remains a mystery to this day.

Historians and scientists have theorized that Earhart’s Lockheed Electra actually went down on a tiny atoll known as Nikumaroro, where she and Noonan proceeded to send radio messages for several days before the ocean claimed their aircraft. It is that small island, which is part of the nation of Kiribati, that this most recent search party is now en route.

When they arrive the team will use a robotic submersible to search for the missing airplane in the waters just off Nikumaroro and they’ll comb the island itself for more clues to Earhart and Noonan’s ultimate fate. A recent excursion to the atoll discovered an old jar of freckle cream that was consistent with the brand that Earhart used and researchers are hoping to discover similar clues this time out. They feel that if they find definitive evidence that the island was Earhart and Noonan’s last resting place it can help solve one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century.

The expedition is expected to last approximately 26 days, with ten of those days dedicated to the search itself. The team departed from Honolulu on Tuesday and should arrive on site some time next week. After that, we’ll all have to wait to see if they discover anything of interest.

New Clues Revealed In Disappearance Of Amelia Earhart

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]