Amelia Earhart's plane spotted by satellite

Amelia Earhart Mystery

Amelia Earhart's L10e aircraft: An analysis of aerial imagery of the interesting group of image pixels about 165 feet southeast of the center of the dark spot in the lagoon of Orona (Hull Island).
Modern technologies allow ever increasing detail of the aerial images provided by popular image application software. Shown here are a group of pixels very near the dark spot at the eastern end of the Hull Island lagoon. This image resolution was not available before 2006 from the popular imaging software, available everywhere for home use.
Model L10E
Lagoon Image
Immediately Southeast of the very large dark spot referred to on the previous page, is the area of interest. The popular home imagery application Google Earth can be used on a PC or Mac for this view. Similar applications with improved resolution could reveal greater detail. Other satellite images of Orona are made with weak diffuse light such that the marine growth keeps the airplane concealed. This 2006 image was made with reflected or spectral light strong enough to outline the airplane shape.
Stormwater Abatement Orona Lagoon
South 4.4986
West 172.1575
Cloud Seeding Augmentation Update July 2012:
TIGHAR's deep water search off Nikumaroro has completed and has resulted in no new evidence of Amelia's plane. Update July 2015: another expedition by the TIGHAR research group resulted in no aircraft parts being located. Update May 2018: TIGHAR has declared the AE disappearance mystery solved, referencing the many circumstantial pieces of evidence they have collected over the past 25 years.
Ideal Candidate Radars Image Analysis: From a software "eye altitude" of 100 feet, the interested investigator can locate this group of pixels by moving about 175 feet SE of the center of the dark spot, considering that the image orientation is North (N) at the top 0/360 of the orientation circle. Further along this line an additional 75 feet, the center of a lighter (aqua green) coral tower is located. Noting the "aircraft heading" to be almost due South, the curious outline of the pixels is apparent at about 400 feet "eye altitude". For those having difficulty seeing the airframe; with your imagery application, go to this location: South 4 degrees 29' 55.00" (4.4986 degrees) and West 172 degrees 09' 27.06" (172.1575 degrees). Check that the application "pan/tilt" angles are zero; i.e., looking straight down from this position. Update November 2012: Scientific expeditions to the Phoenix Islands (PIPA) continue: While not the primary objective of their expedition, scientists, veteran mariners, and SCUBA pros will someday examine this location in the course of science research. The most likely qualified group to do this will be the University of Hawaii HURL Marine Archeological Survey Training (MAST) dive teams.
Update Oct. 2017- the Schmidt Oceanographic Institute survey for deep corals in the Phoenix Islands has passed on an opportunity to SCUBA the Orona lagoon. I had lobbied to have them do that. The RV Falkore and crew have assisted the deep water search around Nikumaroro for the TIGHAR group of researchers.
Hail Suppression
Southern California Operations Major Components are indentified in the image copy at an "eye altitude" of 100 feet. The investigator can keep oriented and maintain the pixel position by noting the deep blue/black and irregular oval pattern (the raft) immediately above and left of the pixels of interest. The image presentation on this page does not provide the fidelity of the image application, especially on a big LCD monitor.
The combined pixels appear to be an airframe very much like the L10e used for Amelia's world record flight. The daylight/sun angle feature of the imaging software provides striking fidelity. Changing the sunlit can provide an erie but more defined appearance for those who may have difficulty "seeing" the airframe. Estimated depth is 35 feet. To help with visualization of the airframe, a model is switched with the GE image by the viewer's mouse on this next page.
The measurements are the key indicators that this is in fact more than a random group of pixels that look like an airframe. While random bumps and pimples of the complex lagoon coral bottom and light and shadow complexes created by surface waves could look like an airframe, the spatial relation of major "parts" being the same as a known airplane become more impossible as each component is added. Readers familiar with the previous edition of this page recall that the refractive index of water( 1.33 ) was used to divide the measured values to render the airframe values. The author of these pages has since abandoned arguments concerning water refraction and the confusion it causes some people. Many people, including engineers familiar with ray tracing, will not accept the analysis because ray tracing and Snell's Law, at some low altitudes above the water, does not explain the bending required that would provide the 1.33 magnification. But at higher altitudes of the camera the angles are very small and the small angle approximation (sine theta=theta) is employed. The telescopic camera lens of the satellite records the virtual image focused at infinity and always results in the 1.33 magnification. The interesting site has a good explanation of this phenomenon ScubaGeek. Note that scubageek's formula for magnification

M =m{[ (1+ (d+R)/D]/[1+m(d+R)/D]}
results in M=1.33 when big D is infinite. That's what the telescope does. This gets involved with science arguments. Instead, the results of my symmetry study is presented as the argument that this is a L10E airframe. The symmetry study is just easier to understand. However, the index of refraction division resulting in the correct values for the L10E is valid according to a noted optical scientist when the distance and the method in which the photo was made is incorporated in the explanation. Those really interested can make measurements using the GE "ruler" function from the image application toolbar. You can then compare your results vs my symmetry study or make the measurement and divide by 1.33.
Two kinds of light: specular or reflective and diffuse. Specular light can be 2 to 3 orders of magnitude (100 to 1000 X) brighter than diffuse light. The 2006 image is specular or reflected light. Later (darker) images are diffuse and the airframe remains concealed.

Amelia Earhart's L10e aircraft: A symmetry analysis of the L10E airframe drawing, B25 drawing, and the GE Orona Lagoon image shows that the differences in the ratios of the various lines connecting major components of the airframes strongly favors the L10E as the airframe seen in the image.
I consider the airframe's orientation as being tail and right wing down sharply and left wing up relative to the morning light, which streams down over and slightly behind the viewer's right shoulder. The aircraft is upright, looking up at a considerable angle with the right wing down and left wing tilted up; the horizontal flat wing and tail surfaces are concealed by sand and small coral growth. The rounded surfaces of the engines, nose, and main body of the aircraft shed the sand and larger corals are unable to stick to the smooth metal surface. The shiny reflections from these surfaces are prominent in the image. In the blue pixel(s) area 45 ft. from the main cabin center line, the left wing is readily located by the graceful and characteristic wing tip curve of an Electra and it's intersection with line AB of the symmetry study. Note how line AB leaves the nose and passes directly through the engine/propeller hub on both the L10E drawing and the Orona image.. But the measurement from the extreme of the blue wing tip back to the cabin center is way too big. The beautiful curve we see is the illumination reflection of the wing upon the coral sand bottom. The investigator now can move back towards the cabin until the distinct pixel coloration change from blue to muted green/purple is noted intersecting with line AB. Curiously, from this transition, the measurement is 36.5' /1.33 = 27.5', the exact value of the L10e. The wing tip itself is not well defined, as would be expected. Like the rest of the flat surfaces of the airframe, it is camouflaged by a myriad of sponges, corals, and reef creatures and the thick deposit of coral sand pooped out by large parrot fish. The pale blue wing tip illumination reflection stands out bold against the uniform sandy bottom as morning light is reflected off of the lagoon floor and strikes the underside of the wing tip and is then reflected back to the sandy bottom and then up to the camera above. The blue color is the result of the double bounce and having traveled further in the water. The wing tip illumination shadow and cloud shadow on the surface of the lagoon indicate the image was taken in the late morning. The date of the image is late December so the sun would be over the right shoulder as the investigator views the image. Diffuse light is reflected off the cabin left side to highlight the purple hue of coral. The indistinct left wing is a more greenish color. The shadow of the right engine is cast under and slightly forward of the right wing. The shadow of the nose projects down to the sand below and brackets the silver nose of the aircraft in high relief. These shadow features create a light sandy bottom without coral growth. The right wing is tilted down, and the coral sand highlights the right engine as the sandy bottom is close to the engine. As divers can attest, coral will not grow in shadowed areas and the underside of such features most frequently are barren lightly colored sand. The shadows of the right engine and aircraft nose together create this sandy area. When other or later images with smooth surface conditions are available, the shadows will move depending on the time of year and a.m. or p.m. An example would be an afternoon image in late December: the left wing tip shadow, would be a true black shadow, not the blue reflection illumination from the sand . This stick figure can help one understand how objects can appear larger underwater
The line AB is most telling in distinguishing this object from a B25, the aircraft most resembling the L10E and used extensively in the Pacific theater of WWII. Note that line AB of the B25 drawing passes well in front of the left engine while the line AB of the L10E drawing and the Orona object passes directly through the engine shaft/propeller hub.The bright object to the right of the tail assembly may be the missing right vertical stabilizer. Damaged in the water crash landing, the right rudder/stabilizer was completely dismembered as in plane sank backwards off of the coral tower. Some pictures of the L10E show that perhaps the extreme nose is a hinged cover for a maintenance access or small storage area. If this nose hatch came off in the crash water landing, that could account for some of the nose to prop setback disparity as well. Note that the average (delta) difference of all lines makes the image almost identical to the L10E. Symmetry is a reliable math comparison technique and viewers are encouraged to make their own measurements and do comparison studies. Seven identified aircraft features allow for 210 comparisons, all of which are very close to the actual L10E aircraft.
The unusual blue/black oval immediately off the tail section and aft of the right wing is unlike any other natural feature of the lagoon bottom and has two possible explanations. This author speculates that this could be the environmental/pollution scar of the hydraulic fluid that leaked from the aircraft. Unlike gasoline and motor oil, hydraulic fluid can be heavier than seawater and doesn't mix or dissolve in water. Even today, after seventy years, the oil residue could be inhibiting coral growth and causing the dark color around the base of a growing coral form that is above the polluted area, out of harms way. Table coral comes to mind. But the more likely explanation is that this object is the raft that somehow the fliers had inflated for use but was scuttled along with the aircraft when IJA pirates took the fliers captive ( see the Orona theory page at the left margin). See the Orona-Saipan Theory page.
Amelia Earhart's L10e aircraft: A speculative pixel analysis of aerial imagery of the interesting group of image pixels about 165 feet southeast of the center of the dark spot in the lagoon of Hull Island.
Amelia Earhart Earlier I mentioned that pre 2006 images contained an unexplained pixel(s). If those images are examined, a small star burst of bright light appears at this exact location. Among the undecipherable jumble of pixels, this tiny twinkle has looked up from the rounded aluminum surface of Amelia's ship since the day it slipped down to it's resting place in the beautiful tropical garden. After through documentation and investigation and with this part of the Mystery solved, I hope Amelia's plane can be permanently housed at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor. If not, the plane should remain there on the lagoon floor.
Having access to the internet starting in 2004 and with time to learn the complete Amelia Earhart story from the many excellant web sites devoted to disappearance theories, I began a study based on old memories of the period of time I worked on Canton Island. Lost ships and WWII planes were a frequent topic of conversation over beers at the Red Dawg Saloon after work. The crash and sink theory was the only accepted theory at the time. Years later, the popular Gardner Island theory, the TIGHAR theory, states that the lost flight was on the correct 157/337 line of search and crashed on the reef at Gardner Island. I thought, 'these through and capable flyers would find Howland Island if they were on the correct line of search'. So if they were on a distant 157/337 course, what could provide a crash landing site for later radio transmissions in accordance with the TIGHAR theory but no evidence of the airplane? Canton came to mind but the lagoon floor had been throughly explored. Then it came to me that the Hull lagoon was mostly unexplored. This idea fits with assumptions that if the fliers were West of the correct ruhmb line and got close enough to raise a signal level 5 with the Itasca, they would have seen the smoke from the Itasca and found Howland/Itasca; if the fliers were right on the correct line they would have found Itasca smoke/Howland/Baker; If they were East of the line they would not have seen smoke, because the wind always blows from the East, yet could still raise signal level five at the Itasca during an expanding box search. This, plus the old memories of shipwreck discussions from the past, formulated my theory. Talking to people about my theory went nowhere. Most considered it a TIGHAR copy cat. I could show them where I thought the plane could be with older aerial images, but nothing concrete was ever discernible. Then came the 2006 image. I was unaware of it until late 2007 and after many hours of examining the image finally pinpointed the airframe location in 2008. Again, telling individual persons was pointless. My realm did not include anyone interested. Finally, in late 2010, I put the Amelia Earhart pages on my website for everyone to examine. There are earlier theories that Hull ( Orona ) Island is a possible place Amelia could have crash landed her plane. The dark blue oval of the raft near the starboard tail section measures 8' (feet) in length; the same as estimated for the raft from film pictures of Amelia and George as they loaded the flight gear. The raft is probably yellow; the film in which it appears is black and white so we can't see the true color. Reds and yellows are readily absorbed by seawater so that creates the blue color in the GE image.
Update March 2012 If too fragile to recover, I believe the airplane should remain in place on the lagoon floor. Properly restored I believe the aircraft would be best suited for the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor Ford Island.

Update Oct. 2019- The EV Nautilus has completed a through search of Nikumaroro. This search is the most comprehensive of all searches, using the latest technologies and equipment. Also a partial search of the Howland Island area was done. No airplane parts were found. The research vessel came within 50 nautical miles of Orona but did no search at Orona.

Amelia Earhart's L10e aircraft. The researchers at TIGHAR are aware of this image but don't place any merit on the theory or image analysis. The TIGHAR investigative group can be given credit for actively maintaining the concept that the Phoenix Islands is a plausable place to search. The US Navy was the first to propose such an idea, immediately spending countless man-hours and millions of dollars in the futile search. Incorporating Orona into current investigations could help resolve the final mystery of what happened to Amelia. The lagoon is shallow and a through investigation can be conducted in situ. NTSB reg 830 makes it unlawful to tamper with aircraft wreckage until the NTSB completes it's investigations. It's not known if Kiribati, the PIPA administration, and TIGHAR would honor this. The 2006 image currently used by GE is unique because it is taken at the best time of day and provided maximum illumination of the airframe. "Expert" image analysis of this location using images of greater resolution than that of GE, but taken at a different times of day or with choppy surface conditions, may not reveal the airframe. The recently added GE 2015 image is dark and of very poor surface conditions. The airframe is concealed by 80 years of marine growth and only when the relation of the sun angle and camera places the reflected light directly into the lens will the airframe be seen. The light we see is specular or reflected light, not diffuse. Always use the 2006 image, available at the application tool bar- "history tool". An early morning or late afternoon image will make the airframe invisible. Low levels of sunlight intensity will also make the airplane invisible. This is the result of the thin layer of coral growth and sand on the rounded surfaces and the orientation of the aircraft relative to the lagoon surface; see the stick figure.Greater clarity can be seen using the link on the left above that switches from the image to the L10E model as the visitor moves the mouse on/off the image. Make this is a public discovery!