Amelia Earhart Found? Search Party Closes In On Suspected Island Using Modern Technology

Few true American mysteries are as legendary as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Even 70 years later, the unknown circumstances of Amelia’s demise are still inspiring efforts to track down her missing plane.

The Earhart Project, part of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), is now concentrating that search to one particular island where they believe Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, may have landed.

Nikumaroro, an island in the tiny Pacific nation Kiribati, is currently being combed by The Earhart Group in their endeavor to find Amelia’s plane. Nicknamed “Niku VIII,” it is the eighth search party to revive the quest to find Amelia since 1989. This time, however, the crew is equipped with 120-foot research motorboat MS Nai’a, metal detectors, and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

That makes the 14 researchers part of the most high-tech attempt yet at finding the exact location of Earhart’s landing. On the ocean floor, the ROV will have capabilities of submerging more than 1,000 feet and reporting back with a well-lit, HD video feed. On the shore, drones will assist the crew in their attempt to track down Earhart’s campsite. One previous aerial photograph from 1938 leads the crew to believe that a fire was built on the island in the days following Earhart’s disappearance, reported Live Science.

The team is also allowing public interaction in the project by broadcasting Earhart’s radio distress signals from Nikumaroro to see if they can be picked up in any of the original locations in which they were heard. TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie presented research last year that used “digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs” to sort through 120 reported distress signals heard from Amelia’s aircraft. The recordings were noted as late as July 19, 1937, over two weeks after Earhart’s suspected crash date. Gillespie told Discovery News that their research found 57 of those signals to be genuine.

“Amelia Earhart did not simply vanish on July 2, 1937. Radio distress calls believed to have been sent from the missing plane dominated the headlines and drove much of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search. When the search failed, all of the reported post-loss radio signals were categorically dismissed as bogus and have been largely ignored ever since.”

If you want to be the first to know if Amelia Earhart’s plane is found, you can follow The Earhart Group’s daily log.

[Image via Hutton Archive/Getty Images]