no human bones or teeth turned up, there were a number of objects found that
are very exciting and may prove to be highly significant. Do personal effects
recovered from the Seven Site by the Niku V team reveal the identity of the
castaway whose bones were found on Nikumaroro in 1940? Did
aircraft parts found in the island’s abandoned village come from
Earhart’s Lockheed Electra? Research and analysis now underway
may soon provide the answers. Click HERE to read reports.
In addition to the physical material discovered and recovered, we cleared
and examined more area than ever before and collected unprecedented amounts
of data and imagery through the use of several new technologies.
We’ll put up more information and photos as time permits but, for
now, we wanted to let everyone know that we consider the 70th Anniversary
Expedition to be a huge success. We also want to thank everyone whose
contributions made this expedition possible and urge you to support the post-expedition
research. We know the results of this expedition are good. We
need your help to find out how good.
Back row, from left: Barb Norris, Mark
Smith, Dave Mason, Andrew McKenna, Lonnie Schorer, John Clauss, Kar Burns,
Robin Acker, Gary Quigg, Walt Holm. Front row, from left: Tom Roberts,
Josh Gillespie, Bill Carter, Ric Gillespie, Tom King. Flag row: the TIGHAR
burgee and Explorer’s Club Flag #101. Photo courtesy Barb Norris.
Click HERE to read daily reports
from the expedition beginning July 14, 2007.
expedition team departed Los Angeles on July 12, arriving at Nadi
International Airport, Fiji on July 14. Transferring to the nearby
port of Lautoka, they boarded Nai’a for the 1,000-mile,
5-day voyage to Nikumaroro. Archaeological operations on Niku
focussed on the Seven Site – the “castaways’ campsite” location
we began excavating in 2001. The goal there was to determine whether
objects or remains are present which reveal the identity of the castaway(s)
who died there. On July 24 the team celebrated Amelia’s 110th birthday
at the very spot where she may have passed her 40th. Further excavations
in the abandoned village looked for more airplane parts in the same area
where artifacts were found by the 2003 team which we suspect are “heat
shields” from the Electra’s
August 4 the expedition departed Niku for the 3-day, 600-mile trip to
Apia, Samoa where the team boarded a commercial flight back to Fiji and
from there, home to the U.S., arriving back in Los Angeles on August 9.
Your continued support is vital. Artifact analysis and research is already
well begun and we need to do much more. To see a selection of sponsorship
opportunities click here.
To join the expedition’s growing family of corporate sponsors please
contact TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie by email or
by phone at (302) 994-4410.
Special thanks to our corporate sponsors for
TIGHAR is a 501(c)(3) public charity. All contributions are tax deductible
to the full extent of the law.
The case for Earhart and Noonan landing and ultimately dying
on Gardner Island in the Phoenix Group – now Nikumaroro in the Republic
of Kiribati – is strong. As detailed in TIGHAR Executive Director
Ric Gillespie’s recently released book Finding
Amelia – The
True Story of the Earhart Disappearance (Naval Institute Press, 2006):
The island is on the navigational
line Earhart said she was following
in the last in-flight radio transmission heard by the Coast Guard cutter Itasca.
Dozens of radio distress calls thought to be sent from the missing plane
were heard for three nights following the disappearance.
The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed, confirmed that radio calls
could only be sent if the aircraft was on land.
bearings taken by Pan American Airways stations indicated
that the distress calls were coming from the vicinity of Gardner Island.
One week after the disappearance, three airplanes launched from the battleship USSColorado flew
over Gardner Island. The flight leader saw “signs
of recent habitation” but did not know that the atoll had been uninhabited
since 1892. No search party was put ashore.
In 1940, a British Colonial Service officer found the skeletal
remains of a female castaway at a makeshift campsite on a remote part of the island.
The bones were later lost or misplaced, but measurements taken in 1941
were evaluated in 1998 by forensic anthropologists using current forensic
databases. The results indicate that the bones belonged to a tall white
female of northern European ancestry.
TIGHAR’s 2001 expedition found the
site where the bones were discovered in 1940 and began an archaeological
examination of the castaway campsite. A
number of fascinating artifacts and features were uncovered, including indications
that the castaway was opening local clams, which somewhat resemble oysters,
the way you open a New England oyster.
Several previous TIGHAR expeditions to the island recovered artifacts
that appear to be debris from a civilian aircraft and seem to match specific
components from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra – but without conclusive
identifying marks, such as a serial number, it’s impossible to be sure.
The answers to the Earhart riddle are on Nikumaroro. If you would
like to help sponsor the 70th Anniversary Expedition please contact Ric Gillespie
at (302) 994-4410 or by email.
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