Earhart Wrecks 2,500 Miles Apart

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Two groups are currently suggesting that their site of interest may mark the final resting place of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan ... and they're more than 2,000 miles apart. Thursday's report of an aircraft resembling Earhart's sitting 230 feet below the surface of the ocean comes from near Earhart's point of departure, Papua New Guinea. The site is more than 2200 miles from the area where Earhart's final radio transmissions were heard near Howland Island. Reports surfaced Friday that a diver had been to the New Guinea wreck and discovered two skulls and three boxes of gold bullion. Australian businessman Cletus Harepa, who is exploring the site, has told reporters that female pilots were known to smuggle gold out of the area in the 1930s. Ric Gillespie, who says he was informed of the New Guinea wreck months ago, has been searching for signs of Earhart 2,500 miles away, near Howland Island (Earhart's intended destination) and the idea that Earhart's plane might be near New Guinea is "silly beyond description."

According to Gillespie, Earhart's final radio transmissions proves she was within 200 miles of Howland Island when she, her Lockheed Electra and Fred Noonan disappeared. At the time of those transmissions, says Gillespie, the aircraft could have had no more than four hours of fuel aboard. If he's correct, that would put the aircraft at least 2,000 miles from New Guinea carrying about 600 miles worth of fuel. Ignoring or unaware of that, Harepa's claim seems to rest on the notion that the aircraft crashed shortly after departure as his site is in line with Earhart's flight path from New Guinea to Howland ... or perhaps that Earhart somehow found her way back. According to Gillespie, "it's just got as silly as anything I've ever seen [regarding Earhart] ... and that's saying something." Gillespie is executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which recently tested samples of material found on an island near Howland for DNA with inconclusive results.