Amelia Earhart Mystery: Robots To Join Search For Missing Pilot’s Plane

Amelia Earhart’s disappearance has been a mystery for decades, ever since the pioneer’s plane disappeared during her around the world flight in 1937.

Discovery reports that the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes that Earhart’s Lockheed Electra landed on a reef of the atoll formerly called Gardiner Island, where it stayed for several days until waves washed it over the reef’s edge. They believe this may have been enough time for the pilot and her navigator, Fred Noonan, to send out radio distress calls.

In order to check their theory, MSNBC reports that TIGHAR will deploy ship sonar and two robot subs to search the underwater reef for aircraft parts. Richard Gillespie, the executive director of TIGHAR, stated:

“We will not be recovering anything on this trip. The objective is to get imagery and photographs of what’s there.”

The expedition to the atoll will depart from Honolulu on July 2nd aboard the Hawaiian research vessel “Ka’Imikai-o-Kanaloa.” With the help of underwater robots, the expedition will be able to search the area with sonar, taking black-and-white photos to a depth of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), and also checking out sonar targets with a hi-def video to a depth of 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).

Discovery reports that the journey will take 8 days to reach Nikamaroro (formerly Gardiner Island), and that TIGHAR will be allowed to search the underwater reef slope for Amelia Earhart’s plane for about 10 days, before returning. Success could allow for a return trip to recover pieces of the Lockheed Electra. Gillespie stated of the expedition that:

“If there’s wreckage there that can be recovered, we need to know what it is, how big it is, what it looks like, and what it’s made of so we can prepare a recovery expedition that has equipment to raise whatever’s there. And, equally as important, to conserve it.”

Do you think that the TIGHAR expedition to Nikamaroro will turn up Amelia Earhart’s plane?