New search hopes to unravel mystery of Earhart’s fate

Mystery surrounds the final days of Amelia Earhart's life. (30712JC9)
Mystery surrounds the final days of Amelia Earhart's life. (30712JC9)

A new search for the remains of US aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart began from Hawaii yesterday, 75 years to the day since her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.

The latest expedition will see researchers examining the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro in the Pacific Ocean, where many believe her Electra 10E aircraft ran into trouble more than seven decades earlier.

On 2 July 1937, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from Papua New Guinea en route to Howland Island, but they never reached their destination.

Theories have since abounded that Earhart, who famously landed in Derry during her first solo trans-Atlantic flight, crashed on the island and that she and Noonan may have survived there as castaways.

The expedition is being conducted by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, better known as Tighar, at a cost of more than £1.3 million, led by its executive director, Ric Gillespie.

He firmly believes that Earhart and Noonan may have survived for a time and hopes the team can uncover clues to prove these theories.

Several items have been discovered over the years which reinforce the theories that Earhart ended her days as a castaway on the remote island, including a glass cosmetics jar and parts of a pocket-knife.

It is claimed that a skeleton of a woman was also found on the same island many years ago, although those bones have long since disappeared.

Researchers will also dive in the waters around the island looking for clues and for any remnants of her Electra aircraft.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart made history as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic when she landed in a field in Ballyarnett on the outskirts of Derry.