Search resumes for Amelia Earhart’s plane

It's been 75 years since she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department announced the "Amelia Earhart, a Pacific Legacy" effort, a renewed search for the famous aviator's twin-engine Lockheed, "Electra."

"Now Amelia Earhart may have been an unlikely heroine for a nation down on its luck, but she embodied the spirit of an America coming of age and increasingly confident, ready to lead in a quite uncertain and dangerous world," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the search announcement.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) will use robotic submarines to search the deep waters off the uninhabited Nikumaroro Island — researchers searched the coral reefs and surrounding shallow waters in 2010 — hoping to prove the latest theory that Earhart crashed on or near the west coast of the island.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, never made their South Pacific Howland Island destination when they left Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937. Even with some garbled radio transmissions to the Coast Guard, nothing is known of the crash site.

Did they collide with the island? Crash into the open ocean? Did they survive the crash — for a while?

Some evidence even suggests Earhart lived on the island as a castaway, with archaeological digs uncovering artifacts "that speak of an American woman of the 1930s," said Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director.

Gillespie explains the new search here:

The resumed search was inspired by a recently discovered 1937 photograph taken near Nikumaroro Island. After "very intense photo analysis," government officials and historians speculate that the image, which appears to shows section of Earhart's plane's landing gear, is a lead worth exploring.

"A very healthy dose of skepticism has to be in play," one official added.

The effort kicks off in July, and will be financed with about half a million dollars in private funds, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Discovery Channel will document the expedition for a television special.