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Aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, in front of their twin-engine Lockheed Electra in Los Angeles at the end of May, 1937. (Associated Press)
Aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, in front of their twin-engine Lockheed Electra in Los Angeles at the end of May, 1937. (Associated Press)

Four famous missing aircraft mysteries Add to ...

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

The famous pilot and her navigator departed Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937, in a quest to circumnavigate the globe along the equator. Although scheduled to refuel at Howland Island, which is 480 kilometres from Nikumaroro, Ms. Earhart radioed that she could not find the island and was low on fuel.

The duo disappeared that day. The U.S. government commenced what became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history thus far, but on July 19, after spending $4-million and covering 647,500 square kilometres (250,000 square miles) of ocean, the recovery mission was called off. To date there has been no recovery of Ms. Earhart and Mr. Noonan’s remains or of their Lockheed Electra.

Air France Flight 447

A disappearance with some unnerving similarities to the Malaysia Airlines search. On June 1, 2009, without warning and on a routine transatlantic flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, the Airbus jetliner vanished into the ocean. It fell so quickly that its pilot had no chance to make a distress call. The victims numbered 228, including one Canadian.

It took five days of intensive international effort, and with periods of time when searchers were concerned whether they were looking in the right place, before any confirmed wreckage was recovered.

Steve Fossett

The famous millionaire adventurer departed from his Nevada ranch in 2007 to scout for locations to try to set a land-speed record. He was reported missing by a friend when he did not return. After several fruitless searches, Mr. Fossett was declared legally dead five months later on Feb. 15, 2008.

It took 13 months before the discovery of the plane wreckage. On Oct. 1, 2008, investigators found tiny amounts of human remains and clothing at a remote crash site in Inyo National Forest, about 200 kilometres south of the Nevada ranch from where he had departed.

Bill Barilko

Less than four months after becoming a hero of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup win, the popular defenceman boarded a yellow 24 Fairchild pontoon plane with his fishing buddy Henry Hudson on Aug. 26, 1951, near the southern tip of James Bay. They never arrived at their destination.

A massive search involving several aircraft lasted several weeks and covered thousands of square kilometres of dense northern Ontario bush. It wasn’t until almost 11 years later, in June of 1962, that the wreckage was discovered by a helicopter pilot near Cochrane, Ont. The skeletal remains of both men were still strapped into their seats.

Compiled by Stephanie Chambers

Sources: The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, Reuters, Amelia Earhart Official Website

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