Tuesday, March 20, 2012

US to search again for Amelia Earhart's plane

Photo caption: Amelia Earhart in 1928 with her biplane 'Friendship.' She disappeared in another plane in 1937.

The State Department plans to join a new effort to find the plane of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart, 75 years after she mysteriously disappeared over the South Pacific.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will take part in a ceremony this morning announcing the joint public-private search at the State Department, The Wall Street Journal reports. The event, "Amelia Earhart, a Pacific Legacy," which is pitched as a celebration of the U.S.'s pan-Pacific ties, was streamed live on the State Department's website, a spokesman for the agency said.

Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed vanished July 2, 1937, as she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea) on their way to Howland Island in the South Pacific as part of an attempt to circle the Earth.

The half-million-dollar search, financed with private funds, will begin in July. The key area is the Pacific atoll of Nikumaroro between Hawaii and Australia.

The Journal reports: A search team will concentrate on the deep waters near Nikumaroro, which was the site of a 2010 search that focused on coral reefs and nearby shallow waters, these people said.

The search will be spearheaded again by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which has championed the theory that the renowned female aviator and Fred Noonan, the other crew member on the July 1937 flight, ended up on or near the west coast of the island, formerly called Gardner Island.

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