State Department Announces Renewed Amelia Earhart Search

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Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Amelia Earhart, seen in the cockpit of a plane.

History fanatics haven’t given up hope of finding Amelia Earhart’s plane wreckage, and apparently the U.S. government hasn’t either. Backed by an unnamed half-million-dollar private donation, the search for Earhart’s plane will start anew this summer about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.

The State Department announced the “Amelia Earhart, a Pacific Legacy” effort Tuesday, 75 years since she vanished in the Pacific on the finishing legs of an around-the-world trip.

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With plans to search the Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific, the private International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery will focus on the deep waters near the atoll, not the coral reefs and nearby shallow waters like researchers did in 2010. The island is part of the Republic of Kiribati, hence the State Department’s intervention.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left what is now Papua New Guinea en route to Howland Island in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937. They never made it, and the latest theory is that the pair instead crashed on or near the west coast of Nikumaroro Island, formerly called Gardner Island. Earhart managed some final marbled radio transmissions to the Coast Guard, adding to the intrigue of what happened to the plane and its two passengers.

Other Earhart theories claim the pilot simply got caught in poor weather and she crashed into the open ocean.

A photo recently emerged that was taken near Nikumaroro mere months after Earhart’s failed flight that have some historians believing it shows a section of her twin-engine Lockheed’s landing gear. Prior searches of Nikumaroro have unearthed an aluminum panel, a piece of curved glass and a heel of a woman’s shoe, which, of course, fuels the fire of differing theories.

Government officials claim the photo is at least worth exploring, even if they remain skeptical.

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