Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer who vanished over the Pacific 75 years ago, would have been 115 today. Meanwhile, researchers are scouring over data gathered during a deep-water search for her plane in the Pacific.
Google marked the aviator's birthday with a Doodle on Google's front page today. It shows Earhart climbing a Lockheed Vega 5B monoplane as her yellow scarf flutters in the wind.
Born in Kansas on July 24, 1897, Earhart became the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress. The award was granted after she flew her Lockheed Vega from Newfoundland in Canada to Culmore in Northern Ireland in 1932 — the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
Tall, slender and brave, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937 in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator. Her final resting place remains a mystery.
The most recent attempt of finding evidence of her Lockheed Electra 10E, a $2.2 million expedition by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR ) off the waters of a tiny uninhabited island between Hawaii and Australia, ended up without any conclusive image of the plane.
Indeed, last week, TIGHAR called off the expedition to Nikumaroro island because of the difficult underwater environment — filled with nooks and crannies and caves and projections — and a number of technical issues.
Nevertheless, TIGHAR still believes Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed on Nikumaroro's reef and died there as castaways.
"Big pieces of airplane wreckage were not immediately apparent, but after 75 years in Nikumaroro's severe and unstable underwater environment, that is hardly surprising. Whatever survives is hard to find," TIGHAR said in a statement.
They added that analysis of sonar data and review of many hours of high-definition video will tell "whether we found it."
Due to the limitations of the technology, the researchers were only able to see standard-definition video images during the search operations.
"Now that we're examining the recorded high-definition video, we're already seeing objects we want our forensic imaging specialist, Jeff Glickman, to look at," TIGHAR said.
"We'll also be getting expert second opinions on our best sonar targets," they added.
Results should be ready by the time a Discovery Channel show on the expedition airs on August 19th.
Photo: Amelia Earhart honored with a Google doodle.