The Lost Photo of Amelia Earhart’s Plane?

In 1937, Amelia Earhart vanished while flying over the Pacific Ocean. Can an old photograph solve the mystery behind her disappearance?

Background on Amelia Earhart

Nearly 75 years ago, Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished while attempting a circumnavigational flight around the Earth. For more than two decades, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has searched for them, focusing most of its efforts on tiny Gardner Island.

In less than a month, TIGHAR will return to Gardner Island, hoping to solve this enduring mystery once and for all. In preparation for the expedition, the group recently held a 3-day conference in Arlington, VA.

Three interesting pieces of evidence were featured. Two days ago, we discussed a possible anti-freckle jar found on Gardner Island, which might’ve belonged to Amelia. Yesterday, we talked about “post-loss radio signals.” And today, we’re focusing on a strange photograph.

The Bevington Photo?

Three months after Amelia’s disappearance, a British expedition was sent to the Phoenix Islands to search for possible settlements. A Navy Cadet Officer named Eric Bevington took numerous personal photographs along the way. This photograph is believed to have been taken off the west end of Gardner Island. The ship on the right is the wreck of the British freighter SS Norwich City. On the left, you can see a small red box, showing what appears to be an object sticking out of the ocean.

“There are telltale signs that lend themselves to strongly suggest that it is in fact a landing gear.” ~ Jeff Glickman

Recently, a forensic examiner named Jeff Glickman reviewed this photograph. It didn’t appear to be a defect so he used the tools at his disposal to enhance it.

You can see the resulting image here. Even though it’s been enhanced, it’s still pretty fuzzy. So, it’s impossible to be certain but it looks a little like an upside-down landing gear, complete with strut, wheel, and mud flap. Experts at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research have concurred with Glickman that the object “is consistent with Lockheed Installation 40650, one of the main landing gear assemblies on Earhart’s Lockheed Electra Model 10E Special.”

Interestingly enough, this object, whatever it is, was gone by December 1938, when the next known photograph of the area was taken. This supports TIGHAR’s theory, namely that Amelia’s Lockheed Electra crash-landed on the reef edge and got caught up in the “spur and groove” surf zone. Amelia proceeded to send radio distress calls for several days. Eventually, the waves battered her plane to pieces and the craft sank into the ocean. Amelia supposedly died as a castaway (a female skeleton, now lost, is believed to have been found in 1940). Fred’s fate remains unknown.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The photograph is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence to emerge in years. In fact, it has allowed TIGHAR to raise substantial funds to return to Gardner Island and investigate the steep underwater ridge off the island’s west end. The search won’t be easy. The water is deep at the reef, plunging beyond 3,000 feet in some places.

Well, that’s it for now. Next month, we’ll be following TIGHAR’s big expedition back to Gardner Island. So, stay tuned…there’s lots more to come!


Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Amelia Earhart

Recent Comments

  • David
    June 5, 2012 - 3:40 pm · Reply

    It’s still there. Here’s a photo of some remains from 2007…

    I believe most of this is now gone though, at least according to TIGHAR’s 2010 expedition. Some of the wreckage, including the stern, is scattered down the reef. But most of the wreckage is below 300 meters. Incidentally, if the Electra is down there, it’s probably surrounded by Norwich City debris. Telling them apart could prove very difficult.

    June 17, 2013 - 9:35 pm · Reply

    We’re kidding, right??

    1. Freckle Cream: When the island was colonized, there was a Company store.
    2. Post Loss Transmissions: All discounted as hoaxes.
    3. The “surf or reef object” photograph: Every see the root systems of an an uprooted Palm in the surf? Duh??

    They ditched. Perhaps survived for awhile on a raft ( no one knows for sure if they had one), and succumbed to the elements.

    The two words TIGHAR never uses are ” CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE “.

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