Technology

Technology can Help us Know the Truth behind the Lost Plane of Emilia Earhart, First Lady to Cross the Atlantic Alone

Undersea Plane Wreck

What happened to Amelia Earhart? Since she disappeared on July 2, 1937, that question has been asked countless times over these 82 years. On June 1, 1937, she took off from Miami, Florida. Along with her navigator on board of a twin-engine Lockheed Electra plane.
Her mission was to circumnavigate the globe and make a triumphant return to Oakland, California. Only the plane and its crew never made it. Somewhere during the voyage, between Lae, New Guinea and a small uninhabited coral islet in the Pacific, it disappeared. We have a pretty good idea of what happened to her but as yet no conclusive proof. But that may soon change, thanks to a search now underway in the South Pacific.
Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences, and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.
Tragically, no plane was ever discovered. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were finally declared dead on January 5, 1939.
But the story doesn’t end here, 82 years later, noted marine explorer Robert Ballard hopes to find out exactly what happened and he’s using the latest technology to do so. The 77-year-old Ballard is the person who, in 1985, discovered the wreckage of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. If he manages to discover the truth about what happened to Amelia Earhart, it would be the cherry on top of an incredible career.
Robert Duane Ballard is a retired United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who is most noted for his work in underwater archaeology, maritime archaeology and archaeology of shipwrecks.
While Ballard is leading the mission, however, an important part of the story is the vehicle he’ll be using for this adventure. Ballard is being accompanied on his quest by an able robotic assistant named BEN.
BEN is a robotic vessel with no-one on board. It is programmed with instructions on where to go and how fast and it allows systematic, repeatable operations from the comfort and safety of a much larger ship or land. BEN is equipped with state-of-the-art multi-beam sonar mapping and navigation systems that allow us to make very precise topographic maps of the seafloor, of the exacting kind that are required for the safety of navigation.”
Thirteen feet in length and capable of travelling at a speed of around five knots, it resembles nothing so much as a skiff or, at best, a vastly scaled-down patrol boat.
Evidence suggests that Amelia Earhart was able to make a successful landing, most likely near the coral reef around the island of Nikumaroro, in the western Pacific Ocean. However, no plane was seen by Navy pilots when they surveyed the island days after Earhart’s disappearance. This suggests her aircraft may have been pushed off the reef into the surrounding water. It’s vital that this water can be fully explored, which is exactly where BEN comes in.
What happens next remains to be seen, but of course the most desirable outcome would be to find a portion of the Lockheed Electra aircraft that Amelia Earhart flew, putting to rest the controversy and circumstantial evidence surrounding her fate.

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