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Nauticos teams up in search for Amelia Earhart's plane
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · March 9th, 2017

A daring young woman in her flying machine made history as she successfully completed the first female solo transatlantic flight on May 20-21, 1932. According to, she flew "a Pratt & Whitney Wasp-powered Lockheed Vega...from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hrs."

Aviator Amelia Mary Earhart ("Lady Lindy") was born on July 24, 1897, in Kansas and later lived in Des Moines during 1908. She saw an airplane for the first time at the Iowa State Fair (

Interestingly, the Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress state that aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright also lived in Iowa as children. They became intrigued with a toy Penaud helicopter their father, Bishop Milton Wright, gave them when they lived in Cedar Rapids from 1878 to 1881.

Orville and Amelia's paths eventually crossed. At the height of Earhart's career, she can be seen in a photograph with him viewing a "4-cylinder vertical Wright engine on display at the Franklin Institute, December 17, 1933" (Wright Brothers Collection;

Sadly, Earhart's time as a pilot came to an end on July 2, 1937, after bravely setting out on an around-the-world flight with her navigator Frederick Noonan from Oakland, California. Their Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electranear ( disappeared near Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean.

As stated in What Happened to Amelia Earhart? - Facts & Summary -, "the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard launched the largest and most expensive air and sea search in American history," but to no avail. All subsequent searches have also failed to find the location of the plane, including The Nauticos explorations of 2002 and 2006, due to strange mechanical and medical emergencies, (The Deep Sea Quest for Amelia Earhart Never Forgotten Book II; David W. Jourdan, 2010).

Now, another search, named Eustace Earhart Discovery Expedition, led by stratospheric explorer Alan Eustace (, is underway to find the downed plane. Retired Rockwell Collins Engineers Rod Blocksome of Robins, who served over four years in the USAF; Bryan McCoy and Tom Vinson are among the 35 persons on board the Research Vessel R/V Mermaid Vigilance: "15 Nauticos, 4 WHOI, and 16 Ship's Crewteam." They "are part of a team of engineers and scientists comprised of Nauticos Corporation, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Azul Mar LLC, and NASA employees. Their mission is to finish the deep water SONAR search for Amelia Earhart's L10E Electra."

According to Blocksome, Nauticos first contacted Rockwell Collins in the fall of 1998 and asked if any communications engineers were interested in "doing some analysis for them in an effort to locate Amelia Earhart's airplane. Over the years, several engineers have contributed time and expertise to the project and Blocksome was among those asked to join the search expeditions in 2002, 2006, and now this one."

He said he left for Hawaii on February 12, 2017, and departed Honolulu on February 18 with the team to search for the plane. Their return date is unknown at this time but could be as late as April 7 (or thereabouts).

"Safety at sea is something everyone takes very seriously," Blocksome wrote. "There were extensive orientation and safety briefings when each person boarded the ship in Honolulu Harbor. The first day at sea we conducted Fire Drill and Abandon Ship Procedures. For several days we were in moderate seas of 16-foot swells and there were only a few cases of sea sickness and a few other very minor issues. We have an MD aboard, Dr. Pam Geddis, to handle these things. She is a veteran of our 2006 expedition. In 2002 we went to sea with a first aid kit. When working on the aft deck we wear life jackets, hard hats, and steel-toed shoes as safety precautions."

Blocksome also explained how they will detect the plane once it is found. He said "they know a great deal about the unique markings and equipment on Amelia Earhart's Airplane which we will use to make positive identification."

When we asked him what will happen if the airplane is found, he responded, "We Celebrate! I advocate that we then conduct a memorial service at sea over the spot."

Email will be their primary mode of communications while they are at sea, explained Blocksome's wife, Elizabeth. She said all three engineers are ham radio operators and will be operating a ham radio station as well. "Last time (2006), they contacted the ISS as it orbited over the Pacific," and will possibly do the same again but nothing is scheduled at this time.

To follow their search, visit and look for the expedition web portal "launch" button.
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