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Amelia Earhart: Why is Hillary Clinton backing new search? (+video)

Amelia Earhart might have crashed on Nikumaroro island, a private group suggests. Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the US is backing the group's effort to discover the truth. 

By Staff writer / March 20, 2012

Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane sits on top of a plane. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery will launch a new search in June for the wreckage of Earhart’s plane off the remote island of Nikumaroro.

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Washington

Hillary Clinton and the US State Department are backing a new search for the remains of Amelia Earhart and her famous Lockheed Electra 10E. In doing so they are attempting to help solve one of the 20th century’s most famous mysteries: What happened to Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan when they disappeared in the Pacific on the fateful day of July 2, 1937.

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Aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed from Lae, Papua New Guinea, on July 2, 1937, in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The two were never seen again.

Many historians have long held that Earhart and Noonan ran out of fuel after missing their intended destination of Howland Island, an uninhabited speck of coral in the middle of the central Pacific just north of the equator. Under this theory, they just disappeared into the vast blue of the sea, so far from any land that no trace of them could ever be found.

But researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) have a different thesis. This nonprofit foundation believes it possible that Earhart and Noonan landed on what was then known as Gardner Island, and is now called Nikumaroro, in the Republic of Kiribati. This is another coral dot in the same general area as Howland.

TIGHAR hypothesizes that the daring air pioneers survived on Gardner for some time but eventually perished due to lack of supplies. In recent years the group has sponsored several trips to the island, and brought back artifacts such as a shattered mirror from a woman’s compact and a pocket knife that could have belonged to Earhart.

The group is planning to return in July, during the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s ill-fated attempt to fly around the world. It’s this effort that Secretary of State Clinton pledged to support in a Tuesday speech from State’s Benjamin Franklin Room.

“Now it has been 75 years since she set out in that twin-engine Lockheed Electra to be the first pilot, man or woman, to fly around the world along the longest equatorial route,” said Clinton. “Her legacy resonates today for anyone, girls and boys, who dreams of the stars.”

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