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Man who found Titanic on new quest to find pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart, missing for more than 80 years

AP, July 25, 2019 6:45PM Kids News

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American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. media_cameraAmerican aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.


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The deep-sea explorer who discovered the Titanic is on a quest to solve the mystery of pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.

Robert Ballard and a National Geographic expedition will search for her plane next month near a remote Pacific Ocean atoll* called Nikumaroro that is part of the island nation of Kiribati.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were attempting an around-the-world flight when their double-engine plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, giving rise to years of searches and speculation*.

media_cameraThis is the last known photo of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, taken at Lae, Papua New Guinea. Picture: Remember Amelia, the Larry C. Inman Historical Collection on Amelia Earhart

They were on the second-last leg of their circumnavigation*.

After taking off from Lae, Papua New Guinea in the Lockheed Electra 10E plane, they aimed for a tiny US atoll called Howland Island, just north of the equator.

They couldn’t find Howland Island and haven’t been seen since.

The US Coast Guard and Navy searched the area by ship and plane for two weeks. George Putnam, Earhart’s husband, enlisted* civilian* mariners* to continue the hunt. Eventually, the US government declared that the plane had most likely crashed and sunk into the Pacific.

Professor Ballard and his team will use remotely operated underwater vehicles in their search.

On August 7, they will depart from Samoa for Nikumaroro and will search with the help of the research ship E/V Nautilus.

Oceanographer Robert Ballard, ship Oceanus background, looking for 'Titanic' which sunk in 1912. Pic Paul Conners, Los Angeles Times. P/                                 Shipping / Ships media_cameraOceanographer Robert Ballard, photographed when he was looking for the Titanic. Picture: Los Angeles Times

An archaeological* team will investigate a potential Earhart campsite with search dogs and DNA sampling.

The National Geographic channel is making a documentary called “Expedition Amelia” about the search and about clues gathered by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery that led Prof Ballard to Nikumaroro.

Prof Ballard found the wreck of the Titanic 34 years ago as part of a top-secret war mission. He has also found many ancient shipwrecks at the bottom of the Black Sea, the German battleship Bismarck and hydrothermal vents* under the sea near the Galápagos Islands.

New Footage Shows Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

The US pilot was an aviation pioneer and a pioneering woman.

In 1928 she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean — as a passenger in a plane flown by men — at a time when much of the adventuring in the world was done by men. She became a celebrity as a result.

In 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in a record time of 14 hours and 56 minutes, despite mechanical problems with her plane and bad weather.

She became a leader of women, encouraging them to reject restrictive traditional roles and do exciting and challenging things.

Amelia Earhart media_cameraAmelia Earhart climbs from the cockpit of her plane at Los Angeles, US in 1935. Picture: AP

In 1933 she released a range of clothing designed to allow women to move freely and be comfortable and active rather than just look pretty.

In the next few years she flew several record-breaking flights, including the first solo flight from the US island state of Hawaii to the US state of California.

She flew to Darwin, Northern Territory, in 1936.

Earhart and Noonan’s around-the-world flight was planned to be about 47,000km. When they took off from PNG they had already travelled 35,000km.

They knew that Howland Island would be difficult to find and two brightly lit US ships were waiting on the way to show them the route.

The journey from PNG to Howland Island would be about 4200km.

Earhart was in radio contact during the flight and the last message was that the plane was low on fuel.

When a search failed to find any trace of Earhart, Noonan or the plane they were declared lost at sea.

Source: Britannica

Amelia Earhart media_cameraAmelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, UK, after her transatlantic flight in 1928. Picture: AP


  • atoll: island that is a ring of coral
  • speculation: sharing ideas that are mostly guesses
  • circumnavigation: to go all the way around
  • enlisted: got the help of
  • civilian: not to do with the military
  • mariners: sailors
  • archaeological: to do with artefacts made or left by humans
  • hydrothermal vents: gaps or holes in the Earth’s surface that allows heat from underground to warm the ocean water


Titanic find was part of top-secret war mission

Amelia Earhart mystery remains

New airport named for Nancy-Bird Walton

Teen to fly solo around Australia for charity


  1. When did Earhart and Noonan disappear?
  2. How long is it since Robert Ballard found the Titanic?
  3. Did her solo flight across the Atlantic go perfectly?
  4. What pioneering thing did Earhart do in 1933 that is mentioned in the story?
  5. How far had they already flown when they took off from PNG?


1. Conduct an interview
Robert Ballard has become an expert at finding lost vessels. His next target is to find out what happened to Amelia Earhart.

Imagine you are conducting an interview with Mr Ballard on his return about the work he and his crew completed, what they found and what conclusions they drew from this.

Use the article to help you decide on some interesting questions to ask and write some likely answers you expect Mr Ballard to give. You will be able to work some likely answers from the article however, obviously answers about what he found will be up to you to decide.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Humanities and Social Science — History, Geography

2. Extension
Write a short biography about Amelia Earhart’s life.


  • When and where she was born
  • Information about her aviation career and the records she set.
  • A world map with her first solo flight and the round the world route marked.
  • A prediction about when and how she is likely to have died.

Use the article to find information about Amelia Earhart. You may also like to find out more about her and her aviation expeditions to help you.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Humanities and Social Science — History, Geography

Fact File
There is some really great information in this article about Amelia Earhart. That’s what a journalist or researcher does, they collect information. Pretend someone is researching you and use the fact file template to make up a file about yourself as if this was the researcher’s notes on you.

Then turn the fact file into a small biography like the article has done for Amelia Earhart.

Maybe you can try and research someone close to you and collect fact on them?

This is a template you may find useful to complete your own fact file. media_cameraThis is a template you may find useful to complete your own fact file.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Where would you go and what would you like to do or find if you were Robert Ballard or Amelia Earhart?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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