Hey, everyone. It’s time for another Mystery Monday. Two weeks ago, I posted about the strange disappearance of the Sodder children. Today and for the next couple of weeks, I’ll continue the theme of missing persons.
Most everyone has heard the name Amelia Earhart, the famed aviation pioneer who became the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. She wrote best-selling books about her experiences and set many other aviation records.
Amelia, along with her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on July 2, 1937, in route to Howland Island from Papua, New Guinea. She was on the last leg of her attempt to fly around the world.
No one knows what happened to the couple, and there has been much speculation. Did they go down at sea? Most historians have held to this theory, but as with any unsolved disappearance, other possibilities have been proposed, including (as you might guess) conspiracy theories.
Some believe Earhart and Noonan made it to Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island. Navy planes from the USS Colorado searched the area a week after Earhart’s disappearance but did not see any signs of the aircraft or people. Other surveys were conducted in 1937 and 1939.
In 1988 The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) began an investigation. Since then, they have conducted ten research expeditions on the Nikumaroro. They believe Earhart landed the Lockheed Electra on an extensive reef flat near the wreckage of a larger freighter and ultimately perished.
In 2012 a photograph taken in 1937 was enhanced. According to analysts, “A blurry object sticking out of the water in the lower-left corner of the black-and-white photo is consistent with a strut and wheel of a Lockheed Electra landing gear.”
TIGHAR’s research has produced several artifacts including improvised tools, an aluminum panel, possibly from an Electra, an oddly cut piece of transparent Plexiglas the same thickness and curvature of an Electra window, and a size 9 Cat’s Paw heel dating from the 1930s, which resembles Earhart’s footwear in world flight photos. Skeletal remains found on the island are determined not to belong to Earhart.
Enter Robert Ballard. If you don’t know the name, Ballard is the one who led the expedition that found the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985. His crew recently finished an expedition on Nikumaroro including use of a remote-operated underwater vehicle to search for the plane.
While they found some “tantalizing clues” on the last day of the mission, there wasn’t evidence of a Lockheed Electra.
So the search continues. Do you believe the plane will ever be found and the mystery solved? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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