The disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her plane in 1937 was a tragic
aircraft accident caused by multiple failures of navigation and communications.
The accuracy of the procedures used by her navigator Fred Noonan were
well known and documented. There was a ninety-percent probability that
Noonan would not miss Howland Island by more than 62 miles.
All of Earhart's radio messages received between 7:42am and 8:43am
by the Coast Guard cutter Itasca at Howland Island were logged
as being received at signal strength 5. This is the strongest radio
signal that exists on a scale of 1 to 5.
At 7:42am Earhart reported she should be on them, and added
"cannot see you but gas is running low." At 7:58am
she reported she was circling and asked them to send homing signals
so she could take a radio bearing. At 8:43am she said they were
running north and south on the line of position 157-337. She asked them
to wait and listen on the frequency 6210 kcs where she would repeat
Her last transmission at 8:43am was nearly the same strength as the
signal received from her at 7:42am. This confirms that Earhart was still
in the immediate vicinity of Howland Island. No verified signal was
ever heard from Earhart after 8:43am.
After 20 hours and 13 minutes, Earhart's flight came to an abrupt and
tragic end. As the engines began to surge and sputter, Earhart would
have to abandon any thoughts of radio messages. She must keep the Electra
under control and prepare the plane for an emergency water landing.
Looking at the sea below she must decide and turn to the direction that
would offer the best chance of surviving the ditching. In a little more
than ninety seconds, Amelia was nearing the point where she had to stop
the plane's descent by bringing the plane's nose up before it contacted
the surface of the ocean's swells. The Electra, a land plane, would
soon fill with water and sink below the surface on its way to the bottom
of the Pacific. To this day it rests quietly on the ocean floor, waiting
to be discovered.
We can hope that after the plane is found, a thorough forensic investigation
will finally reveal the fate of Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart to the
Related media: Watch
the 'Long' Search for Amelia Earhart (6min)