Amelia Earhart’s Plane Found?

Amelia Earhart

The continuing effort to solve a nearly 76 year old mystery may have found something interesting:

A grainy sonar image captured off an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati might represent the remains of the Electra, the two-engine aircraft legendary aviator Amelia Earhart was piloting when she vanished on July 2, 1937 in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Released by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating Earhart’s last, fateful flight, the images show an “anomaly” resting at the depth of about 600 feet in the waters off Nikumaroro island, some 350 miles southeast of Earhart’s target destination, Howland Island.

According to TIGHAR researchers, the sonar image shows a strong return from a narrow object roughly 22 feet long oriented southwest/northeast on the slope near the base of an underwater cliff. Shadows indicate that the object is higher on the southwest (downhill side). A lesser return extends northeastward for about 131 feet.

“What initially got our attention is that there is no other sonar return like it in the entire body of data collected,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.

“It is truly an anomaly, and when you’re looking for man-made objects against a natural background, anomalies are good,” he added.

A number of artifacts recovered by TIGHAR during 10 expeditions have suggested that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, made a forced landing on the island’s smooth, flat coral reef. Gillespie and his team believe the two became castaways and eventually died there.

This isn’t the first time that the people at TIGHAR have reported finding something connected with one of the biggest mysteries of the years leading up to World War II. Just last year, almost to the day, they uncovered evidence of radio signals that went unreported at the time as well as physical evidence found on this deserted island, including what could have been personal items used by Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan. However, an expedition to the island shortly thereafter did not uncover any additional evidence that might have solved the mystery of Earhart’s fate. Of course, this sonar image could be anything, including debris from a ship or airplane from World War II, and TIGHAR could be looking at the wrong island entirely. Nonetheless, it’s worth a look to see what’s down there.

H/T: Vodkapundit

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JWH says:

    I thought Amelia Earhart was taken to the Delta Quadrant…

  2. Franklin says:

    That picture could just as well be a sea serpent. Or perhaps a mermaid? I hear they’re real.

  3. BIll says:


    I like your blogging but anything TIGHAR says at this point has to be taken for garbage and both you and I know that. So why do a post on it? They want people writing about them. You’re feeding the trolls.

  4. Hal 10000 says:

    I always liked this analysis. Nikumaroro is several hundred miles from Howland. It would be inconceivable that a veteran pilot like Earhart would go that far off course.

  5. @BIll:

    Yea I’m aware of the criticisms of that group, but they’re doing interesting work. This is one of the great mysteries of the 20th Century and I’d like to think that, someday, we’ll find out the answer

  6. @JWH:

    That would require me to acknowledge the legitimacy of Star Trek: Voyager

  7. @Franklin:

    I have no idea what you mean. She’s looks pretty damn good to me.

  8. Franklin says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I clicked through and was talking about the actual grainy image. I do agree that Amelia looks fine.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    The last place on Earth where Obama could hide the real birth certificate – it’s over, Mr. President, ‘fess and up and ask Trump for the money.

  10. Me Me Me says:

    “This is one of the great mysteries of the 20th Century ”

    How so?

    Bad navigation + radio trouble = missed Howland —>>out of gas = crash into ocean—>>sink.

  11. merl says:

    @BIll: In this case, that would be you.