Clues suggest the pioneering aviator met a slow death as a castaway. Investigators are still searching for definitive evidence to solve this disappearance mystery, but think they may be closing in on the truth.
Rachel Nuwer at the BBC:
Things were not going well for Amelia Earhart on the morning of 2 July 1937. Around 19 hours earlier, she’d taken off from New Guinea bound for Howland Island, a minuscule, 0.7-square mile (1.8-square kilometre) speck of land situated between Hawaii and Australia. She had already travelled 22,000 miles (35,400 km) around the equator, and just 7,000 miles (11,300 km) of Pacific Ocean stood between her and the record for world’s longest round-the-world flight. But one by one, problems had been accumulating on that fateful flight. Now, it was becoming apparent that not just her goal, but also her life was at stake.
“We must be on you, but cannot see you – but gas is running low,” she radioed to the United States Coast Guard ship assigned to help guide Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, to Howland Island. Due to a series of still-debated misunderstandings and errors, the pair could not hear any of the voice transmissions from the ship, and their attempts to use radio navigation to locate the island failed.
At 8:43 am, reportedly sounding close to tears, Earhart broadcast her last known transmission – “We are on the line 157 337… We are running on line north and south” – indicating that she was following a particular bearing in the hope of stumbling across her destination. As history shows, she never made it.