One Earhart Search Fades, Another Emerges

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As a group that has pored over Gardner Island several times failed in its attempt to find conclusive evidence that the island is the final resting place of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, another effort to solve the 70-year-old mystery has received fresh funding, thanks in part to its exposure in AVweb. Last week The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery wrapped up its latest effort, recovering a part of a zipper and a melted bottle that might have been used to boil water, but nothing that proves Earhart was ever there. Official accounts say she and Noonan crashed at sea, but theories persist that they crashed on an island and perhaps survived for a time, either as castaways or prisoners of the Japanese. An Australian man hopes to test his theory that Earhart's plane came down on New Britain Island off Papua New Guinea and the $75,000 in funding pledges David Billings has received since his podcast interviewappeared in AVweb a month ago will go a long way toward that effort. Billings believes an Australian army patrol found the wreck of Earhart's Lockheed Electra and dutifully reported the discovery, including engine and airframe serial numbers. Although Billings has searched the area on foot, he believes the aircraft is so buried by jungle the only way to find it is with an airborne metal detector. That will cost about $150,000 and, with the money pledged so far and some promising leads on the way, he hopes to finally launch the search.