PORTLAND (AP) – A Maine company is auctioning four spaces on an expedition in February to search the depths of the Pacific for famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart’s lost Electra airplane.

In its auction on eBay, Nauticos LLC of Cape Porpoise is asking for minimum bids for three different packages of $250,000, $150,000 and $80,000, depending on how many people go.

Company owner and deep-sea explorer David Jourdan said money from the bids will be used to reduce the cost of the five-week expedition, which is estimated to be in the $1.7 million range.

Jourdan said the expedition won’t be a luxury cruise and the winners are expected to pitch in and help with the work.

“We’re not looking for a cruise ship passenger here. We’re looking for someone who wants to get out there on deck with us, handle lines, man the sonars,” said Jourdan.

The ship will search an area near where the equator crosses the international date line.

It will complete a search that was cut short in 2002 by a mechanical failure.

Challenged by storms and instrument problems, Earhart vanished on July 2, 1937 while she was trying to land on Howland Island in the Pacific in her quest to become the first person to fly around the world at the equator.

In 2002, Nauticos searched for Earhart’s plane, but a winch failure after the 27th day in 20,000-foot-deep waters cut short the expedition. The search covered two-thirds of an 800-square-mile target area.

The latest expedition will finish the search area and investigate some promising sonar contacts, said Jourdan.

The two pricier packages include a return trip to salvage Earhart’s airplane, should Nauticos find it this February. The company also plans to take along a teacher and a college student, in addition to the paying passengers.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.