At the time, it was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Earhart’s plane disappeared July 2, 1937. The official search ended a little over two weeks later on July 19. Putnam then financed a private search, chartering boats to the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.
The United States government spent $4 million looking for Earhart, which made it the most costly and intensive air and sea search in history at that time. Earhart was declared legally dead (dead in absentia) on January 5, 1939.
During TIGHAR’s 2010 expedition, the team uncovered some of their most compelling clues yet. While foraging in a spot where they had previously identified traces of a campfire, they came across three pieces of a pocketknife, shells that had been cut open, fragments of a glass cosmetic jar, bits of makeup and—perhaps most intriguing of all—bone fragments that may be from a human. With the help of cutting-edge DNA technology, the new items could finally reveal how Earhart and Noonan spent their final days.