Niku VI ran from May 19 to June 14, 2010. The expedition staged out of Apia, Samoa aboard Nai’a, the 120 foot motor/sailer used on TIGHAR’s 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2007 trips to Nikumaroro.
After twenty years of research and nine expeditions to the South Pacific, TIGHAR’s Earhart Project investigation has progressed to the point where we feel that Niku VI could well produce “smoking gun” evidence that Earhart and Noonan landed and eventually died as castaways on Gardner island, now Nikumaroro. Of course, on every expedition since our first voyage to the island in 1989 we have hoped for a dramatic discovery that would solve the case at a single stroke, but experience has taught us that historical investigation is a process, not an event.
So why do we think that this trip will find evidence that crosses the line from probability to certainty?
We now know for certain that the partial skeleton of a castaway was found on the island three years after Earhart disappeared. The bones were subsequently lost, but they appear to have been the remains of a woman. Archaeological excavations in 2001 and 2007 of a site that fits the description of where the bones were found has produced artifacts, materials, and features that speak of an American woman castaway of the 1930s. Earhart is the only western woman known to be missing in that part of the Pacific. The chances seem good that further excavation of the site will reveal objects or remains from which DNA can be extracted and compared to a reference sample of Earhart DNA which we now have on file.
We also plan to conduct an underwater remote sensing search of the deep water off the atoll’s western reef where the available evidence suggests the wreckage of Earhart’s Electra awaits discovery.
Click on the links below to learn more about Niku VI and how you can help.
Our special thanks to the corporate and individual sponsors of The Earhart Project, without whom nothing would be possible:
The TIGHAR Board of Directors
And the loyal members of TIGHAR.