|Volume 12 Number 1
March 31, 1996
||Pending new evidence, further on-the-ground search operations along the island’s northeastern windward shoreline
are not warranted.
||There is no doubt that the inhabitants of the village at
Nikumaroro used aircraft parts and materials for local decorative and utilitarian
purposes. The extent of this activity, the source or sources of the parts,
and the specific period during which this activity took place are not well
understood. Information available at this time indicates that this activity
was limited rather than common; that all of the aircraft parts used can be
traced to two distinct sources; and that little or no such acivity was taking
place during the time covered by the resident British administrator Gerald
B. Gallagher’s quarterly
reports (October 1940 to March 1941).
||It is known from the identification of part numbers that
one of the source aircraft was a Consolidated B-24C or B-24D within a particular
block of serial numbers encompassing some 1,653 individual aircraft. It is
also known that no such airplane ever crashed at Nikumaroro. A “large
four-engined” aircraft is reported to have crashed late in the war at
Sydney Island (now Manra) some 200 miles to the east. This wreck is said to
have been extensively used as a local source of metal for decorative objects.
We know there was post-war traffic between Manra and Nikumaroro and former
residents of Nikumaroro now living in the Solomon Islands identify the Manra
wreck as the source of airplane material found on Nikumaroro. (See “Solomon
||A significant number, possibly as many as half, of the
aircraft-related artifacts found in the village are not consistent with a B-24
nor any other known World War II aircraft. They are, instead, entirely consistent
with archival documents describing Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. The nature
and condition of the components suggests that they were removed from a relatively
intact aircraft which was on land and standing on its landing gear.
||Clearly, additional archaeological survey work in the village
is warranted. Recent comparison of historical photographs of the village with
areas searched on the three TIGHAR expeditions has pointed up several relatively
untouched and potentially fruitful sectors.
||The question of where the aircraft was, or is, remains.
Because the B-24 parts were clearly imported from elsewhere, it is certainly
possible that the same is true of the Electra parts. However, the wealth of
archival documentation which supports Nikumaroro as the most likely site of
the Earhart flight’s end; the repeatedly corroborated anecdotal accounts which
describe the discovery of the skeletons, clothing and shoes of man and a woman
by the island’s first settlers; and the well-demonstrated ability of the island’s
environment to conceal large objects for many years, mandate a thorough inspection
of Nikumaroro’s remaining unsearched regions before giving serious consideration
to an alternative hypothesis.