Amelia Earhart Plane Found – Submarine Tourism, anyone?
Ok, so we’ve seen this headline before: Amelia Earhart plane found, only to be disappointed when science proves it not to be so. But this time, could it be true?
The Post Gazette reports that researchers with the Earhart Project, a division of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), have released sonar images that they believe show the remains of [Amelia] Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra lying 600 feet below sea level off the coast of an uninhabited island in the South Pacific — just 350 miles from Earhart’s original destination on her fateful journey.
Located near Nikumaroro, a remote Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas), the country is comprised of a group of islands that span 4000 kilometres along the equator. The country is best known for its scuba diving and World War II tours, having been the site of ferocious WWII battles in 1943, when Japanese machine gunners mowed down 1600 invading US Marines.
Earhart, the American aviation pioneer and author, was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. During an attempt to fly around the world in 1937, Earhart’s twin-engined Lockheed Model 10 Electra disappeared and she was never seen or heard from again. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance has continued ever since. As recently as 2009, her life was the subject of a biographical film,Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, and Ewan McGregor.
What we know
- The research team has found an object resting on a coral reef about 200 meters below the ocean surface that matches the size and shape as Earhart’s plane.
- It’s deep (30 and 40 meters in the usual maximum depth) but it could potentially be accessed by divers and certainly by submarines. Some of the amazing craft produced by Triton Submarines of Florida can dive with ease to the deepest parts of the ocean, and without the tiny portholes for which some submarines are known. These have large viewing canopies that make deep-sea tourism seem like a real life underwater IMAX movie.
- Earhart and her copilot Fred Noonan disappeared on 2 July 1937 after apparently running out of fuel and going down in the Pacific Ocean. They were en route to Howland Island and radio broadcasts from Earhart appeared to indicate she was lost.
- Artefacts recovered on Nikumaroro island indicate the pair may have crashed there and survived for a time as castaways. The TIGHAR team believes Earhart may have landed the plane on a coral reef.
- Data from the team’s investigations indicates an object about 6.7 metres long in the location where the researchers expected the plane to lie. They say the object is “definitely not a rock” and whatever is down there does not appear to be of natural origin.
While the research is somewhat curious, this is not the first time we’ve heard “Amelia Earhart plane found.” Researchers have yet to officially confirm and identify it as such, and may never. Sources say it would cost $3 million for the nonprofit to fund another research trip. Will the curious minds who want to find Earhart’s plane’s final resting spot be enough to support it? Unlikely.
Kiribati tourism on the other hand, may benefit from the hype. Some say the the low-lying republic faces inundation if global sea levels rise as scientists have predicted.
*Some content courtesy Peter Needham for eGlobal Travel Media.