Intuitive? Yes. It’s a big ocean and Howland is a tiny island. Logical?
No. Howland was by no means the only island within range and the aircraft
should have had more than enough fuel to reach an alternate destination.
Certainly the crew was highly motivated to reach land and Noonan was probably
the finest aerial navigator in the world. A means of finding land, even
if they couldn’t find Howland, was available to them and Earhart
said, in the last radio transmission heard by the Itasca, that they
were following that very procedure – running along the 157/337 line of
position. That call came at her regularly scheduled transmission time.
It was not a distress call and Earhart said nothing about running out of
gas or landing at sea. She did say that she was changing her radio to a
different frequency. The Itasca had never heard her on that frequency,
and they never heard her after she switched. The extensive search which
followed the flight’s disappearance found no evidence that the plane
went into the water and, to this day, there is none. There is, however,
abundant evidence (but, as yet, no absolute proof) that the flight reached
a logical alternate destination – Gardner Island, now known as Nikumaroro.