All Pranks and False Alarms Aside: New Images May End the Hundred Year Earhart Mystery!

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All Pranks and False Alarms Aside: New Images May End the Hundred Year Earhart Mystery!

by Dick Hefton

World news sources this week announced that a marine robotics company found outlines of an airplane deep in South Pacific seas which, they believe may likely be the Earhart plane lost July, 1937. Deep Sea Vision, a South Carolina company, produced blurred undersea sonar images about 100 miles west of Howland Island, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan’s destination, may have been miscalculated and missing their planned refueling stop.

Earhart was a “Rock Star” in those days when aviation was growing rapidly and She won several world piloting records. Her movie producer-promoter husband helped her public image as well. She was the first woman and only the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932; She set a woman’s altitude record in 1922; first person to fly non-stop across the country, 1932; the first person to fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, CA. The magnitude of the notoriety following her disappearance from her attempted round-the world flight fed life-long universal curiosity for the “rest of the story,” converting cultish armies of fans and ongoing extravagant exploratory excursions searching the South seas. Speculation persisted that they perhaps survived but were lost on a desert island, or captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. Fantasy supplied imagined scenarios to explain the unexplained end of Amelia Earhart.

The mystery never drew me to join the prolific mystery-loving groupies. My curiosity has been consistent, but passive and imbedded in Amelia Earhart’s lingering, unfinished story. “Everybody loves a mystery.”

The source of the Earhart – Blackwell yarn which appeared here recently I found a number of years ago in one of many wholesome Oklahoma stories written and collected by Walter (Skipper) Harrison, longtime editor of The Daily Oklahoman.  Her entourage had landed at Blackwell in January, 1937 and stayed over due to engine trouble, setting the practical joke put forth by Amelia’s husband.  She flew in again that Spring, enroute to California. On that signal day, she met hundreds of well-wishers as she stood on the wing of her plane prior to flying away to her fate which has stayed a popular puzzle to this day.

Back to the currant discovery, the aircraft image lies in about 16,000 feet, the sonar image is indeed distorted, as expected at such depth. Searchers have been offered new under-water drones they believe will better identify the airframe on site.

According to USA Today, Sea Vision joins several other deep-water searches who have executed various deep-water explorations in the past; Ocean Technology Company, (Nauticos) – 2002, 2005, and 2017, covering 1,850 square nautical miles; Computer founder – Ted Waiit – 2009, no evidence; Other groups have made under water searches and others have plans to back up the Sea Vision discovery. Sixteen Thousand feet in depth presents additional stress on the latest discovery. The Titanic by comparison lies at about 12,000 in the North Atlantic, but professional researchers believe Atlantic waters create greater image distortion. Our Rotary Magazine a year or two ago featured a report of an undersea searcher – a Dallas, Texas Rotarian, located the wreckage of a WWII U.S. destroyer sunk by the Japanese navy in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Filmed by the Rotarian adventurer at near 29,000 feet deep, clearly showing the ships large ID numbers. The destroyer was captained by Oklahoma native and WWII Medal of Honor holder. Lt./Commander Earnest Evans.

Having been so illusive for near a century, and having such a multitude of disappointing failures, critical groupies seem more abundant than determined cultists. But technology has grown rapidly in the decade and as James Cameron, who’s movie “Titanic” helped foment greater under sea search, “Only two frontiers remain to explore: Sea & Space!”

We can hope technological advances will bring closure to a Century of the saga of Amelia Earhart.


1 Comments for : All Pranks and False Alarms Aside: New Images May End the Hundred Year Earhart Mystery!
    • Donna Lawrence
    • March 11, 2024

    Great and interesting article, Dick!

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