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Amelia Earhart: Why the mystery continues (+video)

Today's Google Doodle honors Amelia Earhart even as the latest $2.2 million search for her plane runs afoul of a Pacific Island reef. The famous aviatrix would have been 115 today.

By Contributor / July 24, 2012

Google honors Amelia Earhart with a doodle on her birthday. The aviatrix would be 115 years old today.

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Today Google celebrates the 115th birthday of aviatrix Amelia Earhart – and one of the great unsolved 20th-century mysteries. 

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Seventy-five years ago, Americans learned that Amelia Earhart was missing. Now, the 10th expedition searching for that aircraft is about to take off. CBS's Lee Cowan reports.

Sorry, Amelia, no birthday present this year. But it's not been for a lack of trying.

Throughout the years there have been a number of search attempts to find Earhart or wreckage of her plane. Now 75 years after she vanished in her Lockheed Model 10 Electra over the Pacific Ocean, the most recent hope of finding evidence of Earhart's plane is fading.  

Discovery News reported last week that a $2.2 million expedition by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) came to an end due to the challenges of exploring a steep, underwater coral cliff.

You remember, a couple of months ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a press conference, and gave an boost to the credibility to the TIGHAR hunt for Earhart's plane.

TIGHAR researchers believed that when Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan went missing July 2, 1937, they made an emergency landing on a reef near the uninhabited island Nikumaroro.

“Everything has pointed to the airplane having gone over the edge of that reef in a particular spot and the wreckage ought to be right down there,” Rick Gillespie, the founder and executive director of TIGHAR, told The Associated Press in early July. There were reports of a 1937 British photo that showed the wreckage of the plane in the background.

“We’re going to search where it ‘should be,’” he said. “And maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not. And there’s no way to know unless you go and look.”

But last week, TIGHAR called off the expedition because of the difficulty of searching the reef.  The slope of the reef was quite steep, and it was filled with nooks, crannies, caves, and crevices. One researcher at TIGHAR questioned the feasibility of the search.

In addition, two "targets" – which they thought could have been part of the wreckage of Earhart's plane – turned out to be a large coral boulder and a piece of the keel from The Norwich City, a well-known ship wreck.

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