In 1937, Amelia Earhart vanished while flying over the Pacific Ocean. Can decades-old radio signals solve the mystery behind her disappearance?
Background on Amelia Earhart
Nearly 75 years ago, Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished while attempting a circumnavigational flight around the Earth. For more than two decades, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has searched for them, focusing most of its efforts on tiny Gardner Island.
In less than a month, TIGHAR will return to Gardner Island, hoping to solve this enduring mystery once and for all. In preparation for the expedition, the group recently held a 3-day conference in Arlington, VA.
Three interesting pieces of evidence were featured. Yesterday, we discussed a possible anti-freckle jar found on Gardner Island, which might’ve belonged to Amelia. Today, we’re going to talk about “post-loss radio signals.” And tomorrow, we’ll focus on a strange photograph.
Post-Loss Radio Signals…from Amelia Earhart?
Amelia vanished on July 2, 1937. From July 2 to July 18, radio operators reported 120 signals that could possibly be traced to her Lockheed Electra aircraft. These reports have been largely dismissed by experts who suspect she crashed into the middle of the ocean. However, researchers at TIGHAR recently analyzed these signals using “digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs.”
“Amelia Earhart did not simply vanish on July 2, 1937. Radio distress calls believed to have been sent from the missing plane dominated the headlines and drove much of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search. When the search failed, all of the reported post-loss radio signals were categorically dismissed as bogus and have been largely ignored ever since.” ~ Ric Gillespie, Executive Director of TIGHAR
TIGHAR found 57 credible signals out of the 120 reports. This indicates Amelia’s airplane remained above-water for several days following her “disappearance.” In turn, this fits with TIGHAR’s hypothesis that Amelia crashed on Gardner Island and her plane remained on land for several days before finally being “washed over the reef.”
“The safest procedure is to transmit only when the engine is running, and battery power is required to start the engine. To run the engine, the propeller must be clear of obstructions, and water level must never reach the transmitter.” ~ Ric Gillespie, Executive Director of TIGHAR
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
Obviously, this evidence is circumstantial. And some of the 57 radio signals could still be “hoaxes.” However, we find this particular body of evidence quite interesting. At least four signals were heard by multiple radio stations. And other radio signals were reported by credible sources.
“281 north Howland – call KHAQQ – beyond north — won’t hold with us much longer — above water — shut off.” ~ Morse Code Message received by the U.S. Navy Radio at Wailupe, Honolulu, July 5, 1937
Well, that’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’re going to examine a photograph taken three months after Amelia’s disappearance, possibly showing the landing gear of her Lockheed Electra aircraft. Also, don’t forget yesterday’s post on glass shards from Gardner Island which might’ve once belonged to Amelia. And of course, next month, we’ll be following TIGHAR’s big expedition back to Gardner Island where researchers hope to excavate Amelia’s plane from the deep waters off the island’s western end. So, stay tuned…there’s lots more to come!
Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Amelia Earhart
- 7/3/11: Where is Amelia Earhart?
- 3/23/12: The Search for Amelia Earhart?
- 6/3/12: New Evidence for Amelia Earhart?
- 6/4/12: New Evidence for Amelia Earhart: Part II?
- 6/5/12: The Lost Photo of Amelia Earhart’s Plane?
- 6/23/12: The Baltic Anomaly: What is the next Anomaly?
- 7/3/12: The Search for Amelia Earhart Begins Today!
- 7/8/12: Amelia Earhart’s Lost Skeleton?
- 7/13/12: The Earhart Expedition: And so it Begins…
- 7/20/12: The Search for Amelia Earhart Nears an End
Eerie. . .and more convincing than the glass jar, which could have been left by anyone.
How many of the radio signals expressly state that it’s Amelia Earhart?
Yeah, the glass jar was interesting but ultimately circumstantial. TIGHAR’s gathered a lot of evidence from the Seven Site, enough to make me think a castaway stayed there for a time. But its impossible to tell if it was Amelia and/or Fred.
There was one signal on July 3 where the operator heard “Earhart” but later concluded it hadn’t originated from her (I’m not sure why – the only ones who could’ve said it were Earhart herself or the Itasca…and as far as we know, it wasn’t the Itasca). Another one on July 8 was noted by the Itasca as, “Weak radiotelephone signals. Talk of Earhart.”
There were a few others where the operator seemed to recognize her voice. For example, one on July 3 was reported with the notation, ““We hear her on 3105 Kcs now, very weak and unreadable/voice.”
I think it might be a waste of time hunting for the bones of Amelia Earhart or Fred Noonan. Instead, why not contact other explorers for help in the project, such as Del Ballard or others? With multiple ROVs in the area, wouldn’t the odds be a bit better? Also, it’s probable that the plane wreckage would be easier to find than a human body reduced to bones. If the plane is found, it would solve quite a few hypotheses as to her actual landing area. Once that is established, then her whereabouits can be speculated with this new information, not just circumstancial evidence..
Agreed. They actually searched for the wreckage recently, but failed to find it. You can read about it here: The Search for Amelia Earhart Nears an End Thanks!