Amelia Earhart’s distress calls may have gone unnoticed. According to this news break from CNN, dozens of radio signals are believed to have been sent by Earhart after her disappearance in 1937. These suspicions were revealed on the first day of the Earthart Search 75 conference, a gathering meant to honor Earhart and her unfinished journey.
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which runs this conference, also has plams to make an expedition to the island where Earhart is believed to have crashed. Their version of the story suggests that Earhart was off course from Howland Island, and so was forced to land on Gardner Island (uninhabited, then and now). She attempted to radio back regularly – and those would be the dismissed SOS calls – from the plane but, as the theory goes, the Electra would have been eventually taken by the sea. By the time the Navy came around looking for Earhart, there would have been no aircraft by which to recognize her landing place, and the search party would have moved on.
That’s all well and good, but on what grounds were the radio signals dismissed? Were they unclear? Assumed to be white noise? If Earhart did land safely, and was able to send distress signals over a course of days, it means that her death was not just an unfortunate accident but also a tragedy of missed opportunity. She was rescuable; we just failed to rescue her.