Next year, 1997, will
mark the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred
Noonan during their 1937 World Flight attempt. We think that sixty years
is long enough to wait for the answer to one of the 20th century’s greatest
The idea, born during
World War Two, that Amelia Earhart may have been a spy or was somehow
abducted by the Japanese has always been absurd, but decades of sensational
speculation have given that fantasy a place in American folklore. More
common today is an acceptance of the ultimate 1937 finding that the flight
simply got lost, ran out of gas, crashed at sea and sank into oblivion.
Although attractive in its simplicity, the documented circumstances of
the disappearance and the subsequent search show it to be, perhaps, too
There is another answer.
It is not a new answer. In fact, it is the oldest answer, the one considered
to be the most reasonable by those most knowledgable at the time of the
disappearance. Naval and aviation experts agreed that Earhart had, most
probably, landed at an island which lay on the navigational line she
had said she was following. That line of investigation was abandoned
on the basis of a brief aerial search one week later. TIGHAR has done
nothing more than pick up the old and now very cold trail where the U.S.
Navy left off in 1937.
This special issue
of TIGHAR Tracks summarizes the results of eight years of TIGHAR research.
It is our statement of the case for a conclusive search of Nikumaroro,
formerly known as Gardner Island, an uninhabited atoll in the Phoenix
Group of islands in the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati.
TIGHAR’s goal is to
find additional physical evidence which will establish, once and for
all, what really happened to Amelia Earhart. We believe that the probability
of such material being found by TIGHAR’s next expedition to Nikumaroro
is very high.