Three miles under the Pacific Ocean, in a darkness so absolute that many species of fish have no eyes, a deep-sea exploration company hopes to find the plane that disappeared in 1937 with legendary aviator Amelia Earhart aboard.
Finding it would solve one of the great mysteries of the 20th century and transform Hanover, Md.-based Nauticos from highly regarded sea sleuths to world-famous treasure hunters. But the search will put all the company's vaunted technical expertise to the test.
People have been looking for Earhart's Lockheed Electra ever since she lost contact with a waiting Coast Guard cutter on a difficult, 2,556-mile leg of her journey from Lae, New Guinea, to tiny Howland Island. Flying into a head wind at the edge of her plane's range, she maintained intermittent radio contact with the cutter for several hours before disappearing. A rescue attempt began immediately. More than two weeks later, after spending $4 million and combing 250,000 square miles of ocean, the Navy gave up.
Others didn't. Theories as to where she crashed -- or landed -- abound. One group even says she and navigator Fred Noonan were captured while spying on a Japanese naval base for the United States.
David Jourdan, a 1976 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who founded Nauticos 15 years ago, doesn't believe that. He and his colleagues are using the theory advanced by Elgen and Marie Long, authors of "Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved": that Earhart ran out of fuel within 100 miles of Howland Island and crashed into the sea.
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