Amelia Earhart Enigma: Three Groups With Three Theories Probe Pacific

Donna McGuire
The Kansas City Star
August 31, 2001

As Amelia Earhart guided her twin-engine airplane toward tiny Howland Island early on July 2, 1937, U.S. Coast Guardsmen waiting to assist her grew worried.

Earhart's radio transmissions were too brief for them to determine her position. And their radio messages weren't reaching her.

Sixty-four years later, Earhart's disappearance that day over the Pacific Ocean continues to intrigue many people—especially those who yearn to find her plane and solve one of America's legendary aviation mysteries.

Now, three teams embracing different theories are investigating locales hundreds of miles apart:

• A Maryland company is planning an expedition this winter to scour roughly 600 square miles (1,500 square kilometers) of Pacific Ocean floor. Its team believes Earhart ditched her out-of-fuel Lockheed Electra within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Howland—and that the Electra probably rests today in good condition at roughly the same depth the Titanic was found.

• A nonprofit Delaware group was headed recently for an uninhabited South Pacific island it has searched five times. Its members believe Earhart landed on the island's coral reef and died as a castaway.

• A third group of independent researchers recently dispatched three persons to a North Pacific island. Members of this loose-knit group have believed for decades that Earhart crashed in the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands and was taken prisoner.

Each group thinks it is following the correct clues. Each perceives Earhart's plane as the Holy Grail of aviation and is willing to spend thousands—even millions—of dollars to find it.

George Putnam, Jr., whose father was married to Earhart and who flew with her as a teenager, hopes someone succeeds. Finding the plane would squelch erroneous rumors about his stepmother's disappearance, he said.

Another Earhart relative, though, is tired of the fuss.

"I would just as soon leave it as a mystery," said Amy Kleppner, a retired teacher who was five when her Aunt Amelia vanished during an attempted around-the-world flight. "I guess I don't see a lot of point in digging up bones."

The Day She Disappeared

Continued on Next Page >>


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