No, really! This time they're pretty sure!
OK, don't take my word for it. Here's what History.com writes:
Researchers with the Earhart Project, a division of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), have released sonar images that they believe show the remains of [Amelia] Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed Electra lying 600 feet below sea level off the coast of an uninhabited island in the South Pacific -- just 350 miles from Earhart's original destination on her fateful journey.
Go ahead, click on the TIGHAR site and check it out. Though I'll warn you, to the untrained eye, the sonar and other images look like, well, let's just say they are open to interpretation. It could be a plane. It could be a boat. It could be Jimmy Hoffa in concrete. Though it probably isn't Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster.
The TIGHAR folks have been focusing on the island of Nikumaroro for years. Their theory is that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan crash-landed on the remote island's beach in 1937 and managed to survive for some time as castaways. (Think Tom Hanks without the happy ending.)
They've found artifacts on previous expeditions to back up that theory, such as a jar of freckle cream. Earhart had freckles, but hated them. Voila! She was there!
Now, the members of the group want to go back to Nikumaroro to check out the latest find. But there's a catch: They need about $3 million to fund another trip. (Too bad it's just a regular nonprofit and not a 501(c)(4); if it were the "Tea Party Types for Finding Amelia Earhart," it would be awash in money -- although its IRS application would probably be as lost as Earhart's plane.)
On the comment boards, some miserly types suggest it's a waste of money to spend $3 million on another search. Ironically, though, they don't seem to mind wasting five minutes reading about the latest Earhart "find."
Which is the point, isn't it: It's been 76 years since Earhart vanished. But like the Titanic, the mystery of her final resting place has captivated generations of historians, aviation buffs and just plain folks. (Heck, this isn't even the first time yours truly has written on this subject.)
It probably isn't her plane there on the ocean floor. Like in the movie "National Treasure," our dogged searchers will probably find only another clue, something just tantalizing enough to keep them going -- and spending money.
Maybe, in fact, it would be better not to find out. Had Earhart not vanished, she'd be known, but she wouldn't be nearly as famous. A definitive answer would rob us of that which has, in a way, kept her alive all these years.
Naw. Let's go find Amelia.
Paul Whitefield writes for the Los Angeles Times.