Credible Amelia Earhart Signals Were Ignored

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In one missive, the U.S. Navy Radio in Honolulu heard a garbled Moorse code: "281 north Howland - call KHAQQ - beyond north -- won't hold with us much longer -- above water -- shut off."
Corbis

THE GIST

- Signals from Amelia Earhart 's plane suggest that dozens of previously dismissed radio signals are credible.

- Earhart 's aircraft was likely on land and on its wheels for several days following the disappearance.

- Earhart would have used the aircraft's radio to make distress calls until the plane was washed over the reef in the South Pacific.

Dozens of previously dismissed radio signals were actually credible transmissions from Amelia Earhart, according to a new study of the alleged post-loss signals from Earhart's plane.

The transmissions started riding the air waves just hours after Earhart sent her last inflight message.

The study, presented on Friday at a three day conference by researchers of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), sheds new light on what may have happened to the legendary aviator 75 years ago. The researchers plan to start a high-tech underwater search for pieces of her aircraft next July.

"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," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.

PHOTOS: Jars Hint at Amelia Earhart Castaway Presence

"When the search failed, all of the reported post-loss radio signals were categorically dismissed as bogus and have been largely ignored ever since," he added.

Using digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs, TIGHAR re-examined all the 120 known reports of radio signals suspected or alleged to have been sent from the Earhart aircraft after local noon on July 2, 1937 through July 18, 1937, when the official search ended.

They concluded that 57 out of the 120 reported signals are credible.

"The results of the study suggest that the aircraft was on land and on its wheels for several days following the disappearance," Gillespie said.

Earhart used radio transmissions on her last flight on July 2, 1937, during her record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

At 07:42 local time, as she flew toward the target destination, Howland Island in the Pacific, with her navigator Fred Noonan, Earhart called the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, stationed at Howland Island to support her flight.

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