Volume 12 Number 1
March 31, 1996
State of the TIGHAR

As TIGHAR begins its twelfth year we’re pleased and proud to report that the organization is stronger and more fiscally sound than it has ever been. Of course, as Einstein said (sort of), “Everything is relative” and long-time members know well the struggle it has taken through the years to keep the TIGHAR tracking. Being able to reliably meet payroll and basic operating expenses, keep the taxman at bay, make progress against a backlog of old debt, and still move vigorously forward with research and field work is our idea of heaven. These days we can almost feel our wings.

The results of the NIKU III Preliminary and the Solomon Islands expeditions are very encouraging (see articles in this TIGHAR Tracks). Fund raising for next fall’s NIKU III expedition recently passed the halfway mark with a $70,000 pledge from a TIGHAR member and we have every expectation of being able to complete the project’s million-dollar budget. Media interest in the Earhart Project remains high and negotiations on that front are currently underway. Computer upgrades are both enhancing our research capabilities and permitting us to further improve TIGHAR Tracks. To top it all off, this TIGHAR Web site is opening up a whole new avenue for growth.

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight at the twisting, often rocky, path that has brought us to this point in our journey, we can see some wrong turns, some hard lessons, and not a few surprises. Through it all, we have been continually amazed and humbled by the loyalty, the intellectual courage, and the unfailing generosity of the TIGHAR membership.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of TIGHAR’s accomplishments is how relatively small the organization is. Despite twelve years of international press coverage and tens of thousands of dollars in paid advertising, the active TIGHAR membership worldwide has never exceeded one thousand individuals. We’re not sure why. We do hear repeatedly that TIGHAR Tracks is read by far more people than the membership numbers indicate. John Garwood of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand recently wrote to say, “There is a pecking order among the [AHSNZ] members as to who gets to read the TIGHAR Journals next after they arrive. Only, of course, after yours truly has thoroughly read them first.” Whatever the reason, the TIGHAR member and supporter remains far rarer than the TIGHAR fan. Though small, the organization’s work has such impact that the Senior Curator of the Royal Netherlands Military Aviation Museum once said of TIGHAR, “With apologies to Sir Winston Churchill – Never in the field of aviation historic preservation has so much been owed by so many to so few.” Of course, being “few” brings more responsibility, and greater credit for accomplishment, to each of us. That concept might best be expressed with another paraphrase of another Englishman. “We few, we happy few, we band of TIGHARS....”

Thank you for your continued support. And for those “closet” TIGHARs now reading this article – there’s a membership form on this Web Site.


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