Amelia Earhart plane wreck hunters deny keeping site a secret

June 12, 2013 at 5:17 PM
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WILMINGTON, Del., June 12 (UPI) -- The Delaware group that believes it may have found Amelia Earhart's plane says it didn't keep the wreck site secret while it raised money for its expedition.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery said in a statement on its website Wednesday it rejected the contention in a lawsuit filed against it last week by Timothy Mellon, a major contributor to its 2012 search for the wreckage of the pioneering American aviatrix's plane.

Mellon, who took part in the expedition to the Pacific Ocean site, alleges the search group and its executive director, Ric Gillespie, recorded underwater footage of wreckage of Earhart's Electra aircraft during a 2010 expedition but didn't tell Mellon and other contributors to the 2012 expedition.

The group says while Mellon maintains images of the plane, the remains of Earhart and personal effects, including musical instruments, can be seen in 2010 video, it's own assessment concluded otherwise.

"Neither TIGHAR nor TIGHAR's forensic expert could see anything in the video that can be linked to the Earhart disappearance," the the group said in its statement.

"Despite the lawsuit, TIGHAR will always be grateful to Mr. Mellon for his contribution to the 2012 expedition and respects his right to interpret the imagery in any way he chooses. TIGHAR also maintains that the allegations in the lawsuit are entirely without merit and TIGHAR will defend itself fully."

Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, disappeared along with navigator Fred Noonan while trying to circumnavigate the Earth in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra in 1937. They were believed to have gone down over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

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