Earhart expedition sets sail to Gartner Island

Famed aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the South Pacific on July 2, 1937. Subsequent searches for the duo failed to find either the aircraft or Earhart and Noonan’s remains.

However, researchers recently discovered evidence that seems to indicate Earhart and Noonan survived the crash and lived for a while on Gartner Island, which is currently administered by the Pacific nation of Kiribati.

The research team is now on the way back to the South Pacific island on a new expedition backed by $2.2 million and two submersible vehicles tasked with searching the ocean floor for Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft – which may have hit a reef off the island’s coast.

“Everything has pointed to the airplane having gone over the edge of that reef in a particular spot and the wreckage ought to be right down there,” said Ric Gillespie, the founder and executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, the group leading the search

“We’re going to search where it — in quotes — should be… And maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not. And there’s no way to know unless you go and look.”

The mission is expected the last 26 days, including the 16-day travel time between Honolulu and the remote Island.

Researchers have focused on tiny Gartner Island due to a photograph taken in October of 1937 that appears to show the shoreline of the island, along with the blurry image of a strut and wheel from a Lockheed Electra aircraft.