Cutting edge technology will soon send twenty-first century robots on a deep sea expedition to plumb the depths of the Pacific Rim in an effort to recover Amelia Earhart’s plane wreckage. Miss Earhart, along with her co-pilot, disappeared almost 75 years ago while making a second attempt to circumnavigate the world in a Lockheed Electra. Researchers connected with the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believe that Earhart may have landed on the coral reef coastline of Nikumaroro, an uninhabited South Pacific Rim Island once known as Gardner Island.
TIGHAR will utilize two robot submersibles capable of black and white photography down to 5,000 feet as well sonar detection of objects to a depth of 3,300 feet. The team of scientists hopes to find conclusive proof that wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane does exist and discover the best means possible to send a follow-up team to actually recover its remains.
TIGHAR’s team of aviation archeologists plans to embark on its latest expedition on July 2 which marks the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance. Upon arrival it will spend approximately 10 days taking pictures and gathering data from the coral reef and surrounding waters using the Bluefin Robotics 21 to scan and photograph the waters that may be the final resting place of Earhart’s plane. This submersible robot will be preprogrammed to discover and document its findings and equipped to actually manipulate pieces of the wreckage for better viewing and photographing.
Nine prior attempts have been made by TIGHAR to locate the plane wreckage of this pioneer aviator. Previous expeditions have uncovered artifacts including a bottle of cosmetic freckle cream which may have been used by Earhart as well as a bone handle knife which appears in the inventory of items taken onboard her flight. Pieces of a plane wreckage discovered in an abandoned neighboring village may tell the story of a salvage operation by the island’s natives after Earhart’s demise. Historical accounts of female bones found on the island, along with the items discovered by the archeologists seem to corroborate the likelihood that Nikumaroro may, indeed, be the place where Amelia Earhart landed and was marooned until her craft was swept into the ocean. If TIGHAR’s robots can find the wreckage of her plane, a monumental piece of American’s missing aviation history will be put into place. Perhaps, then, archeologists will have a significant clue as to why Miss Earhart went missing in the summer of 1937.