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.
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Why the US support for this effort? Well, for one thing, Clinton herself is something of an Earhart aficionado. She said that when she was growing up in Illinois her mother was an Earhart fan and filled her ears with stories of the aviatrix’s derring-do. This led Clinton to dream of herself becoming an astronaut – so she wrote NASA when she was 13 to ask whether she could qualify.Skip to next paragraph
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“NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts. And I was just crestfallen,” she said in her speech.
A second reason for today’s government involvement is that the US government was heavily involved with Earhart’s effort in the first place, in part due to its demonstration of American skill and technology during the Great Depression. State Department personnel arranged for visas and safe conduct for Earhart and Noonan and helped shepherd them along the way. On the day she disappeared, a US Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, was in position off Howland to aid in radio direction finding and resupply.
“At 8.00 A.M., the plane reported reception of the cutter’s signals, but was unable to obtain a minimum for a bearing ... at 10:40 A.M., it was assumed the plane was down and the cutter got under way at full speed to search the area,” reads a Coast Guard report of the Itasca’s mission.
A third reason the Secretary of State has taken the time to acknowledge the TIGHAR search is that it recognizes US ties with South Pacific Island nations – and there’s at least some new evidence that bears on-site investigation.
Modern analysis of a photo of Gardner Island taken shortly after Earhart vanished reveals what may be a piece of aircraft landing gear protruding from waters just off-shore, according to TIGHAR.
Famous oceanographer Robert Ballard, who found the shipwrecks of the Titanic and the Bismarck, said that the photo could be a “smoking gun.” He is serving as an adviser to TIGHAR and attended the Tuesday State Department ceremony.
Times today are not as tough as they were in 1937, Clinton concluded, but after long years of recession, war, and terrorism, the US might need something of Earhart’s spirit.
“We can be as optimistic and even audacious as Amelia Earhart. We can be defined not by the limits that hold us down, but by the opportunities that are ahead,” said Clinton.
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