One of the enduring mysteries of the 20th Century was the disappearance in 1937 of famed aviator Amelia Earhart and her flight companion and navigator Fred Noonan, while she was attempting to circle the globe. It appeared that Earhart’s plane went down in the South Pacific, in the vicinity of Howland Island; her last-known radio transmission came from there. On February 18, a team from Nauticos — with stratospheric explorer Alan Eustace and aviation pioneer Elgen Long, WF7T — departed Honolulu for the vicinity of Howland Island, some 1,600 miles to the southwest, to complete the Eustace Earhart Discovery deep sea search for Earhart’s lost Lockheed Electra. Nauticos provides ocean technology services to government, science and industry. The team now is conducting a sonar survey of about 1,800 square miles of sea floor where it’s believed the aircraft may rest, and Amateur Radio has provided a means to link the crew of the research vessel Mermaid Vigilance with youngsters following the expedition, as well as with the International Space Station (ISS) crew.
Among those involved in the Earhart search is ARRL Midwest Division Director Rod Blocksome, K0DAS, of Iowa. Earhart was born and raised in Kansas and lived in Iowa and Minnesota. Bryan McCoy, KA0YSQ, of Iowa, also is on the Mermaid Vigilance, which is carrying out the deep-water sonar search for the lost aircraft. The team is using autonomous underwater technology provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to image the ocean floor nearly 18,000 feet below. On March 17, the team launched the REMUS vehicle to search the depths of the Central Pacific.
On March 20, another Midwesterner — Tom Vinson, NY0V, of Minnesota — joined other crew members in making contact with US Astronaut and ISS Commander Shane Kimbrough, KE5HOD, who was at the controls of NA1SS aboard the ISS. A couple of Russian-speaking crew members also had the opportunity to speak with one of the cosmonauts onboard the ISS.
Earlier, on March 15, Vinson assumed Kimbrough’s role to host a question-and-answer session of his own, with Virginia 5th graders in the classroom of teacher Kathy Lamont, KM4TAY, an alumna of ARRL’s Teacher Institute. The contact was routed over 20 meters from the vessel to Hawaii, and then via EchoLink to Virginia. “My kids had a lot of fun,” she recounted later. Vinson said that promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education “is what we’re all about,” with support from Rockwell-Collins.
According to The Daily DX, Vinson has been on 7.027 and 7.165 MHz around 0600 UTC “and whenever I am up on the sunrise across the US.” Blocksome will join him in Majuro, where they will operate April 5-7 using the V73 prefix with their home call signs.