Group Found Earhart Plane, Kept It Quiet: Suit

TIGHAR rejects accusation

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 11, 2013 7:12 AM CDT | Updated Jun 11, 2013 7:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – About two weeks ago, TIGHAR (that's the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) announced that it may have spotted the location of Amelia Earhart's downed plane during a 2012 search. The most important part of that sentence, according to an angry donor, is the year: Timothy Mellon says TIGHAR actually found the remains of Earhart's plane in 2010 but didn't tell him—because it wanted him to help fund further searching, the AP reports. Now Mellon, who says he provided more than $1 million worth of stock last year for that 2012 search, is suing the Delaware group.

Images from a 2010 search of the waters around Nikumaroro reveal remnants of the plane underwater, says Mellon's lawyer. "As a layman, it is hard to see, unless you know what you're looking at," he notes, but experts came to a "definitive conclusion that that is in fact the wreckage, and it had been discovered two years before our client paid for another expedition." But a lawyer for TIGHAR says the group "did not conclusively make any discoveries in 2010 which it's withheld," adding: "There is no financial gain for us in hiding the discovery of the most famous missing aviator in the history of aviation."

In a March 10, 1937 file photo, Amelia Earhart waves from the Electra before taking off from Los Angeles on March 10, 1937.
In a March 10, 1937 file photo, Amelia Earhart waves from the Electra before taking off from Los Angeles on March 10, 1937.   (AP Photo, file)
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