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Although 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.

Group photo

Click HERE to read daily reports from the expedition beginning July 14, 2007.

Click HERE to see a photo gallery from Niku V.

Click HERE to order a CD with detailed photographs of the expedition.

Follow the team around Nikumaroro with the all-new Grid Map Set.

Niku V Home Dailies Plan Team Press Grid Maps Research Support


NikuV Route Map
Niku Site Map

The 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 cabin.

On 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 donate to the Earhart Project 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 (610) 467-1937.

Special thanks to our corporate sponsors for the Earhart Project:
Photek Imaging
Digital Globe
Thursby Software
Sutton Inspection Bureau




Whites Electronics


Case for Niku

Nai'aThe 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):

  1. 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.
  2. Dozens of radio distress calls thought to be sent from the missing plane were heard for three nights following the disappearance.
  3. The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed, confirmed that radio calls could only be sent if the aircraft was on land.
  4. Directional bearings taken by Pan American Airways stations indicated that the distress calls were coming from the vicinity of Gardner Island.
  5. One week after the disappearance, three airplanes launched from the battleship USS Colorado 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.
  6. 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 The Earhart Project please contact Ric Gillespie at (610) 467-1937 or by email.

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