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Wed, Mar 21, 2012

Group To Mount New Search For Amelia Earhart's Lockheed

Team Will Dive Deep In The Ocean Off Nikumaroro Atoll

A new effort to locate the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart (public domain photo below) will concentrate on the remote Pacific ocean atoll of Nikumaroro, which lies about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. A recently discovered photograph said to be taken near the atoll shortly after Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on their around-the-world attempt shows what may be a piece of the airplane's landing gear, which has prompted the renewed search.

The search will be privately funded by an historical group, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the State Department has been involved in securing the necessary permissions for the search to take place. In a briefing arranged on short notice Monday evening, government officials said that after "intense analysis" of the photograph, it was deemed to be "worth exploring."

But an official also cautioned that the search needs to be approached with a "healthy amount of skepticism."

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is leading the effort. The group has long believed that Earhart and Noonan ditched the Electra near the west coast of what was then called Gardner Island, now the Republic of Kiribati. The shallow coral reefs were searched recently, but the new effort will concentrate on deep waters off the atoll. The search is expected to begin in July.

The effort comes as TIGHAR and others mark the 75th anniversary of Earhart's flight.

"(H)ere we are to mark a time that is particularly rich in symbolism and opportunity. We can be as optimistic and even audacious as Amelia Earhart. We can be defined not by the limits that hold us down, but by the opportunities that are ahead," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an event Tuesday celebrating Earhart, as well as the United States' ties to the Pacific region. "So I’m thrilled to invite to this room today scientists and engineers, our aviators and our salvagers and everyone who still knows how important it is to dream and to seek, because even if you do not find what you seek, there is great honor and possibility in the search itself.

"So like our lost heroine, you will all carry our hopes with us into whatever field of endeavor you go, and in particular, those whom we recognize today, we are excited and looking forward to hear about your own great adventure."

FMI: http://tighar.org/, www.state.gov

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