On July 3, 1937, at 7:20 a.m., the famous female aviator Amelia Earhart gave her final radio transmission: “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” Then she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared and were presumed lost at sea, as no wreckage or evidence of their crash has ever been discovered—until now.
The Obama Administration announced today the U.S. will join the search to begin in June of this year in hopes of solving the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the ceremony in Washington D.C., “We can be as optimistic and audacious as Earhart. There is great honor and possibility in the search itself.”
The idea to begin a search was rekindled by the discovery of human bone fragments in 2010 that were found on the island of Nikumaroro, known at the time as Gardner Island. It is believed Earhart and Noonan might have landed there and survived for a short time after their disappearance.
The search group The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery is putting up $500,000 and the U.S. will provide logistical support.
The search will focus on the remote island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the Pacific nation of Kiribati.
The group believes Earhart and Noonan might have managed to land on the island, then known as Gardner Island, and that they could have survived for a short time after disappearing on July 2, 1937. See the Google earth link of Gardner Island to view sites of wreckage found and bone fragments on the island. Artifacts found on the island suggest the two might have lived for days or even weeks after landing.
Some historians, however, believe they crashed in the ocean, and their flight has been the subject of conspiracy theories that included their capture by the Japanese before WWII. Most of these have been discredited over the years.
This year is the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s famous ill-fated flight. While she would not be the first person to circumnavigate the earth, she decided she would be the first to do it around the equator.