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Can the man who found the Titanic find American aviator Amelia Earhart?

Can the man who found the Titanic find American aviator Amelia Earhart?


The disappearance of Amelia Earhart - and the theories about what happened to her - have captured imaginations for decades.

In 1937, American aviator Earhart vanished during her attempt to fly around the globe, leaving no trace.

Now, a new expedition has set off for Nikumaroro, a tiny atoll in the Pacific, seeking to find her plane and possibly her remains.

And it's headed by another legend - the man who found the wreck of the Titanic, Robert Ballard.

Can he succeed where so many have failed?

While Mr Ballard radiates optimism, many Earhart experts are doubtful he will be able to uncover what happened to her.

The mystery

Amelia Earhart was not just a star of the aviation world - she was a celebrity. A pioneering pilot, in 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. Five years later, she embarked on what would have been her greatest feat - a circumnavigation of the globe.

Her flight was a sensation. It was followed by the press in every country she passed through and made headlines around the world.

"Earhart was one of the most admired women of the 1930s," explains Dorothy Cochrane, curator at the aeronautics department of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the US.

"She was a record-setting pilot and a woman who had created her own career in aviation, as a woman in a strictly man's world."

The journey took her from the US west coast to Brazil, across the Atlantic, Africa, the Middle East, India, Indonesia, Australia, and finally to Papua New Guinea. From there, only the Pacific was left.

One more refuelling stopover and she'd be in Hawaii - and from there it would be back to the US mainland. But after she took off from the town of Lae in Papua she never made it to that next stopover, on the tiny island of Howland in the Pacific.

What happened to her has never been established.

"Her disappearance without a trace is still one of the greatest mysteries of all time," Ms Cochrane says.

The man who found the Titanic

As far as oceanographers go, Robert Ballard brings as much star power as possible. Finding the wreck of the Titanic was not his only feat. The 77-year-old also found the legendary Nazi warship Bismarck in the depths of the Atlantic, and numerous other wrecks around the globe.

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