Amelia Earhart found?
July 18, 2001 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Amelia Earhart found? TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) has put together an interesting package of evidence, including recent satellite photos, to bolster their claim that Amelia Earhart didn't crash into the sea as previously believed. Do you think that history's mysteries can be solved with circumstantial evidence decades, or centuries after the fact?
posted by headspace (8 comments total)
I don't know. What do you think since you raised the question. Does this mean, if true, that she is not being held captive by the Japanese ?
posted by Postroad at 12:41 PM on July 18, 2001

I think it's possible, myself. I still hold out hope that there's still evidence waiting to be found on Jack the Ripper, and I'm all for the forensic reconstruction they're doing on the mummy that may or may not be Nefertiti. I suspect that if this is true (some of the evidence includes reports of a skeleton found on the island in question) she was never held captive by the Japanese. Sadly, this also means that she and her navigator Noonan were not abducted by aliens. All my faith in Star Trek is gone, excuse me while I weep and gnash my teeth.
posted by headspace at 12:48 PM on July 18, 2001

So they have found an aircraft that has crashed in an area literally dotted with thousands of other crashed and sunken aircraft, and around the time of early WWII. Hmmm.... I don't see how it could be any other aircraft but Earhart's.
posted by fluxcreative at 1:30 PM on July 18, 2001

This is the photo that convinced me:

I mean, just look at it. If that's not Earhart, it must be her twin sister!
posted by jpoulos at 1:45 PM on July 18, 2001

I love how everyone is suddenly an expert on satellite photos. "Hey, that looks like a turd to me." Yes, now go back to your legos.

I don't see the fascination in finding this woman's plane and rotted corpse but there's obviously funding for this so let the experts and divers have a field day, they might find something of interest.
posted by skallas at 2:19 PM on July 18, 2001

More knowledge is still better than less knowledge, isn't it? I think this is a worthwhile project, and I'm glad to see that someone is coughing up the dough for it. Nice to see that there are still people who are willing to put the time and effort into solving old mysteries just for the sake of knowing how a given story ended.
posted by Optamystic at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2001

There was an article in the LA New Times recently about Gertrude Tompkins, who was one of the WASP transport pilots during WWII. (That's Women's Airforce Service Pilots, silly, not the other kind of WASP.) Her plane crashed in 1944; she was not reported missing for several days, and the wreckage has never been found. A California sleuth, though, thinks the wreckage is just off the LA shore.

Why are we so fascinated with mising women pilots? Amelia Earheart was a celebrity, so the continued interest in what happened to her is somewhat understandable. (See Chandra Levy, who is now a bona fide celebrity.) Earheart's celebrity also explains why when the mystery surrounding her death is mentioned today, no one remembers to add that she wasn't all that good at flying.

Still, women pilots who meet with ill fate seem to arouse more interest than men. Don't you think? The cynical voice in my head tells me that there's still the perception of women pilots being novel. (Read: inexperienced, and therefore begging for diasaster.) Or am I reading too much into it?
posted by mudbug at 5:16 PM on July 18, 2001

mudbug: q.v. Kara Hultgren.

As for Earhart, part of it was always the vanished-without-a-trace aspect, which lent itself to all sorts of conspiracy theories (e.g. that she was spying on the Japanese for the US).

This satellite photo is just a tool, anyway, labeled as conjecture. They know they won't be able to prove it until they can obtain an undisputed artifact. The plane would be good. Even if they fail (this fall, the search made based on this photo will be the sixth Earhart-search-related visit to the island), they're still learning techniques that they can use in other aircraft recoveries. Over the years they've gone from complete speculation to a point where they've actually acquired artifacts, albeit any link to Earhart remains unproven. As TIGHAR notes, they themselves had to be convinced that Earhart hadn't simply crashed and sunk at sea.

I wish them good luck.
posted by dhartung at 6:31 PM on July 18, 2001

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