The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Elgen Long returns with new developments in his search for Amelia Earheart’s plane

By Connor Bryant | Managing Editor of Copy

Two years ago, world-renowned aviator and navigator Captain Elgen Long came to Marshfield High School to receive his high school diploma 69 years after leaving to fight in World War II. He returned in November to speak to social studies teacher Jeff Eberwein’s aviation class about the recent developments in his search for Amelia Earhart’s plane. Now, Long believes he just might have the key to finding it.

Using new military grade technology, known as synthetic aperture sonar, Long is hoping to pinpoint the exact location of Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10 Electra.

“The synthetic aperture sonar gives us two tremendous advantages over what we had before,” Long said. “We can measure to within seven centimeters. We can measure any dimension: dimension of the wings or the props and we can identify the airplane now directly from the sonar.”

According to Long, approximately half of the area where Earhart’s plane is presumed to have sunk has been searched. He is positive about the outcome.

“We now only have half of that area to search so the chances are actually double that we’d find it,” Long said. “We’re not at all discouraged.”

Eberwein, who first made contact with Long after seeing his picture in the principal’s office and spending three years to hunt the famous aviator down, felt it would be important to have someone with a Marshfield connection speak to his aviation history class, working in a way to provide Long with a long-overdue diploma.

“Once you realize that somebody who came from our high school has done so many tremendous things, including flying around the world solo over the poles, no one else has ever done it, that’s something we should take notice of because Marshfield has a rich sports history, but we also have a rich academic history. We have rich musical and artistic history as well,” Eberwein said. “It’s just important that we recognize how many opportunities Marshfield has provided for people in all the different areas of life.”

Eberwein is confident that Long will be successful in his latest mission to find Earhart’s lost plane.

“For a brief instant, if he does recover that aircraft, he’s gonna be one of the most famous people on earth and people are gonna be clamoring to hear how he solved the mystery and we should be proud of that as an institution,” Eberwein said.

Junior David Walters, who is in Eberwein’s aviation class, is Long’s great nephew on his father’s side.

“My parents always told me that he was like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s searching for Amelia Earhart and everything,’ but I didn’t think it was super important till he actually visited the school like last year,” Walters said.

Having been an aircraft accident investigator since 1957, Long decided to investigate “the greatest aviation mystery of all time,” a mystery which Long chalked up to nothing more than an aircraft accident: the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Armed with his tape recorder and macro-lens camera, Long began traveling with his wife to find people who were directly involved with Earhart. He managed to gather a wealth of evidence to support his current theory.

“Over a period of about 25 years, we collected over 25,000 pieces of paper, over 3,000 photographs and hundreds of hours of taped interviews with people who had direct connection to her flight,” Long said.

With this knowledge, Long and his wife penned their definitive work on Earhart, a book which Long considers “a game-changer” which made use of all Long’s skills as an aviator, navigator and radio operator.

“The book established me as the guru of the “Crash and Sank” theory. All the other theories have her landing on some island somewhere, somehow or other everything disappears and nobody can prove anything, but the evidence which is well laid out and the book establishes that she was very near Howland Island when she ran out of fuel and had to ditch the airplane and unfortunately they never found a trace of her of any kind,” Long said.

Long’s newest expedition comes at no small price, costing several million dollars in equipment. Backed by Williams & Associates in Seattle, the process will also involve three separate expeditions. After performing an underwater forensic analysis of the airplane and an examination of its contents, the plane will be brought to the surface. Although Long believes that most of the documents within the plane itself will be intact, human remains will not.

“There won’t be any bones or anything; it’ll all be dissolved by the pressure in the water over the years, but other things will. The airplane itself, as far as what’s going on there, will just be like it’s been an automobile parked in a garage too long and a light dusting will be all over it, Long said. “The airplane should be in reasonably good condition.”

Once rescued from the ocean’s depths, the plane will be placed in a separate water tank on a barge in order to preserve the aircraft. It will then undergo expert care, and become an artifact of American history for “one of the world’s most famous women.” Long is also excited by the idea of having the world witness the plane’s emergence.

“We can do it live on Internet or whatever and it’ll be a worldwide event,” Long said. “To be part of that is pretty exciting, because how often do we as individuals get the opportunity to participate in something of worldwide interest and value? And most of the people that will be on that ship weren’t even alive when we first got the idea to do this.”

Walters considers his great uncle a source of inspiration and is proud of what he has accomplished.

“I think it’s really interesting that he did all this stuff, like just all the flying that he did and searching for Amelia Earhart still,” Walters said. “And I think it’s just interesting being related to someone that’s put so much effort into doing something that they love to do.”

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Elgen Long returns with new developments in his search for Amelia Earheart’s plane