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"Earhart searchers see 'anomaly' in picture"

Sunday, July 15, 2001

Earhart searchers see 'anomaly' in picture
By Donna McGuire
The Kansas City (MO) Star

Researchers tying to locate Amelia Earhart's doomed plane may have found a
new clue to the aviator's 1937 disappearance.

A high-resolution satellite image taken in April shows an anomaly in the
coral reef that circles Nikumaroro, a tiny southwest Pacific island.

The anomaly resembles a chunk of rusty metal perhaps 12 by 24 feet, said
Rick Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic
Aircraft Recovery, in Wilmington, Del.

"We know whatever it is, it is underwater and not in very deep water," said
Gillespie, who has thought for years that Earhart landed her plane on
Nikumaroro after running low on fuel on an attempted flight around the

Despite a massive search, rescuers never found Earhart, who was an Atchison,
Kan., native, or her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Another group thinks her single-engine Lockheed went down in the ocean
hundreds of miles from Nikumaroro. Nauticos of Hanover, Md., is planning a
600-square-mile search of the ocean floor in coming months.

Gillespie, however, thinks other clues point to Nikumaroro as the correct

His group has visited the uninhabited island five times and is launching
another exploration in August. Divers, who had planned to examine the
island's lagoon, now will check the coral reef, too.

Gillespie ordered the satellite photograph in preparation for his group's
upcoming trip to the island. The anomaly is near where fishermen reportedly
saw a wrecked plane decades ago, Gillespie said Thursday.

Historical photographs from 1938 and 1953 appear to show a dark object at
the same spot, he added.

But he cautioned that that didn't mean the Earhart mystery was close to
being solved.

"It's really dangerous to make too many conclusions based on (that image),"
Gillespie said. "But it's worth checking out."


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