The United States vowed to help solve the 75-year-old mystery of aviation legend Amelia Earhart after analysis of a photograph showed that she may have crashed on a remote Pacific island.
Earhart set off in 1937 from Papua New Guinea on a mission to circumnavigate the globe over the equator, its longest route. She and her navigator Fred Noonan were never seen again, despite a massive US search in the midst of the Great Depression.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the trailblazing female pilot as a personal and national heroine and offered moral support for an upcoming expedition to find the wreck of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft.
“Amelia Earhart may have been an unlikely heroine for a nation down on its luck, but she embodied the spirit of an America coming of age and increasingly confident, ready to lead in a quite uncertain and dangerous world. She gave people hope and she inspired them to dream bigger and bolder,” Clinton said.
“When she took off on that historic journey, she carried the aspirations of our entire country with her.”
Aviation enthusiasts from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery said that they planned an underwater mission in July on the Kiribati archipelago’s remote island of Nikumaroro.
Ric Gillespie, the group’s executive director, said he came across a photograph of Nikumaroro taken in 1937 by a British expedition that — unlinked to Earhart — was assessing the uninhabited island for potential settlement.
Gillespie said he saw what he thought was a simple “blob” on the picture. But after a closer analysis, Gillespie said he believed it showed landing gear from the ill-fated Electra.