Forum logo What may have happened to the plane after it landed at Nikumaroro?

Our gut feeling is that the airplane got busted up pretty badly by waves breaking across the reef flat on the western end of the island and was distributed by the force of the surf to the places that the surf would naturally distributed it to. Lightwieght, buoyant pieces (fuel tanks, pieces of skin with insulation attached, etc.) would travel farthest and may have gone through the main passage, across the lagoon, and washed up on the opposite shore right where Pulakai Songivalu says he saw wreckage in the late 1950s. Non-buoyant, but lightweight pieces (outer wing panels, cabin skins, the empennage) may have washed across the reef flat and either up into the shoreline vegetation or into the lagoon, depending on the specific direction of the storm(s). This process could well have taken years. Tapania says she saw a piece of a wing on the reef flat in the late 1950s or early 60s. The stuff that washed across the shallow ree flat and into the lagoon would have logically then sunk to the bottom (around 24 feet in that area) where it would be out of effect of wave action. It should still be there. We searched a very small percentage of the lagoon bottom in 1997 and did no work at all anywhere near the main passage. See “I Saw Pieces of an Airplane...” for further information about what these folks saw and when.

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