A 1930's photo shows aviator Amelia Earhart at the controls of an aircraft… (AFP/Getty Images )
Reporting from Washington — Seventy-five years after Amelia Earhart disappeared while attempting to circumnavigate the world, the search for the wreckage of her twin-engine Lockheed Electra will resume this summer.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton applauded the effort Tuesday in a speech to, among others, the people who will conduct the search in the waters off Nikumaroror, an uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific where Earhart might have died.
“Even if you do not find what you seek, there is great honor and possibility in the search itself,” Clinton said.
Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and nonstop, solo, across the United States, disappeared on July 2, 1937, during an attempt to fly around the globe at the equator.
The search will be conducted by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, an organization that has been investigating Earhart’s final flight and has theorized that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, might have died as castaways on what was then called Gardner Island.
Their disappearance sparked a multimillion-dollar search effort at the time, but turned up nothing.
A newly discovered photo taken just months after Earhart’s disappearance might picture portions of the plane in waters near the island, according to the Associated Press.
Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic and Bismark, is advising on the expedition.
“If you ever want a case of finding a needle in a haystack, this is at the top of the list,” he told the Associated Press.
A State Department official told the Wall Street Journal that the government determined it was “worth exploring” in the area, but that “a very healthy dose of skepticism has to be in play.”
The expedition will begin in July and will be filmed by the Discovery Channel, which is helping to pay for its cost. The State Department has helped clear the way for the expedition since the island is now part of the Republic of Kiribati.
Tessie Lambourne, the secretary for foreign affairs and immigration of the Republic of Kiribati, attended Clinton's remarks at the Benjamin Franklin room of the State Department on Tuesday.
Clinton recalled admiring Earhart as a woman who, “when it was really hard, decided she was going to break all kinds of limits – social limits, gravity limits, distance limits.”
Earhart was “an unlikely heroine” who “carried the aspirations of our entire country with her” when she set off on the flight, at a time when war loomed and the country’s economic future was uncertain, Clinton said.