Lost aviator Amelia Earhart who vanished 90 years ago is being hunted by scientist who uncovered Titanic wreck

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ONE OF the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries is to be tackled by the deep-sea explorer who found the wrecked Titanic.

Robert Ballard has begun his search for the plane of famed pilot Amelia Earhart near a Pacific Ocean atoll, more than 80 years after her puzzling disappearance.

Amelia Earhart’s final flight

Amelia vanished alongside navigator Fred Noonan in July 1937 as she sought to take the crown as the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe.

The pair of Americans had taken off from Papa New Guinea and were headed for nearby Howland Island when their radio went dark, spawning years of searches and speculation.

Ballard, a 77-year-old retired United States Navy officer who is famous for finding high-profile wrecks, is working with National Geographic to uncover Amelia’s plane.

They’re searching the deep ocean around an uninhabited atoll named Nikumaroro, which is part of the Phoenix Islands.

Getty – Contributor

Amelia Earhart was a pioneering pilot who vanished in 1937 while attempting to become the first woman to fly around the world[/caption]

A hunk of aluminium previously found on the island is thought to be part of Amelia’s plane. The skeleton of an as-yet unidentified white woman was discovered there in 1940.

Ballard and his team will use remotely operated underwater vehicles in their search, the National Geographic channel said in a statement.

An archaeological team will investigate a potential Earhart campsite with search dogs and DNA sampling.

The channel will air a two-hour special on October 20.

“Expedition Amelia” will include clues gathered by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery that led Ballard to Nikumaroro.

Amelia became famous in the 1930s for breaking a number of aviation records, including becoming the first female pilot to make the transatlantic crossing in 1932.

Rex Features

Robert Ballard will begin a search for the plane of Amelia Earhart next month[/caption]

Getty – Contributor

Ballard, an underwater archaeologist and former US Navy officer, famously discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985. This image of the doomed ship’s bow was taken on the expedition[/caption]

Amelia might have been the first to fly around the world had her plane not vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937
Amelia Earhart might have been the first to fly around the world had her plane not vanished over the south Pacific  in 1937
Getty – Contributor

She was 40 years old when she disappeared, and the riddle of exactly what happened to her has never been solved.

Many believe her aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea, but this had been disputed.

After the crash, it’s possible she survived on an uninhabited Pacific Island for months before finally perishing.

Some even believe Earhart made it back to the States and lived on under a fake name.

Reuters

It’s believed Earhart crashed near an uninhabited Pacific atoll named Nikumaroro (pictured)[/caption]

This aluminium panel found on Nikumaroro in 1991 is thought to have come from Amelia’s plane

The footage is thought to clearly show the key panel from the plane
TIGHAR

Her plane, a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, had an aluminium patch added to its fuselage in Miami when some damage was repaired.

There has been speculation that a piece of metal that washed up on Nikumaroro island in 1991 is the metal patch used on Earhart’s plane.

The island, previously called Garner Island, was were human bones were found in 1940 which are thought to be the remains of Earhart.

The life and times of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was a ground-breaking pilot born in July 1897.

The pioneer of the skies made her first transatlantic fight in 1929 with Wilmer Stultz as the pilot. Her duties included keeping the flight log.

Earhart quickly became something of a celebrity and the US papers dubbed her “Queen of the Air”.

Her fame reached new heights in 1932 when she became the first female pilot to make the transatlantic crossing, setting off from Newfoundland and landing in Culmore, Northern Ireland, 14 hours 56 minutes later.

For her efforts she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Earhart also set a number of other records, most notably becoming the first pilot to fly solo from Honolulu in Hawaii to California in 1935.

She first tried to fly around the world on March 17, 1937 but due to technical problems the attempt had to be abandoned.

After raising more funds, she set off again, this time from Miami on June 1 and arrived at Lae, New Guinea on June 29.

Earhart took off once more the next day but mysteriously vanished, and was never seen again.

Her last known position was near the Nukumanu islands, around 800 miles into the flight.

The patch measures 19 by 23 inches and has five parallel lines of rivet holes on it.

The new mission to find Amelia began on August 7, and will last until August 25.

Ballard’s hunt for Amelia’s plane follows his successful missions to find several famous ships, including the sunk World War 2 vessel the USS Yorktown and President John F. Kennedy’s patrol boat lost in the Solomon Sea.

His search for the “unsinkable” British passenger liner the Titanic – which famously sank in 1912 – was used as a cover for a US Navy mission to find lost nuclear submarines.

He eventually found the Titanic, and had four days left over to film the wreckage – because the ship was due to be rented out by someone else.

Amelia disappeared on July 2, 1937
Getty Images – Getty

“People had taken 60 days and not found it. I did it in eight,” Ballard told CNN and CBS earlier this year.

The archaeologist recalled being immediately excited by the find, but the mood quickly turned sombre.

“We realised we were dancing on someone’s grave, and we were embarrassed,” he said.

“The mood, it was like someone took a wall switch and went click. We became sober, calm, respectful, and we made a promise to never take anything from that ship, and to treat it with great respect.”

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In other news, it emerged yesterday that a mysterious destroyed temple and treasure-laden ships had been found in a sunken city dubbed the “Egyptian Atlantis”.

A 500-year-old ship was found in near-perfect condition at the bottom of the icy Baltic Sea earlier this week.

These haunting “bog bodies” with their throats slit from ear to ear and nooses around their necks were found perfectly preserved after thousands of years.

Do you think they’ll find Amelia’s plane? Let us know in the comments!


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