Volume 12 Number 2/3
October, 1996
Navigator’s Bookcase Sheet of aluminum with red paint Cut Strip of Aluminum Aluminum Plate
Dado Aircraft Skin Aluminum Comb Riveted Assembly
Channel Section Cables Plexiglas Aircraft Safety Wire
Thermometer, broken Threaded metal cap Shoe parts Artifact 2-2-G-8, Shoe heel
Shoe parts (TIGHAR Artifact 2-2-G-7)
Date found: October 1991 during TIGHAR’s Niku II expedition. heel inside
heel outside
Identification assistance: Cat’s Paw, a division of The Biltrite Corporation.

The many fragments which make up this artifact have been cataloged under 9 separate sub-headings based upon the nature of the material or object, and the specific spot where it was found.

Artifact 2-2-G-7/1, Cat’s Paw heel
Description: This is a rubber shoe heel 3 inches long by 2 and 7/8 inches across its greatest width. It is nominally 1/4 inch thick and is pierced by 8 ferrous nails. The exterior (bottom) surface is considerably worn. The interior surface exhibits a number of codes and markings molded in at the time of manufacture, plus the hand-written letters RN. Two shallow depressions once held anchors for white rubber “traction plugs.”
Condition: The rubber is hard and probably somewhat contracted. Remnants of all eight nails are extant but severely oxidized. The washers surrounding the nails are present in 6 of the holes.
Identification: This is a Cat’s Paw replacement heel manufactured in the United States in the mid-1930s for a left shoe of either a large woman’s or small man’s size. The hand-written RN may be stock coding applied by the repair person.
Artifact 2-2-G-7/2 through 5, Sole
sole
Description: These are fragments of a rubber shoe sole nominally 1/4 inch in thickness. The largest fragment is 6 7/8 inches in length and measures roughly 2 1/2 inches wide across the narrowest part of the instep. When reassembled, the suggested length of the sole is approximately 10 7/8 inches. Eight holes are present where the heel was once attached and the alignment precisely matches the nails in Artifact 2-2-G-7/1 (see above). Holes along the edge where the uppers were stitched to the sole are spaced 3/16 inch apart.
Condition: The rubber is hard, brittle and probably somewhat contracted.
Identification: This is the sole of a woman’s left shoe of a style known as blucher oxford. The location of the stitching holes establish the style and the tightness of the stitches (even allowing for contraction) indicate a woman’s shoe. The length and width indicate a woman’s size 8 1/2 or 9 narrow. The Cat’s Paw replacement heel (Artifact 2-2-G-7/1) found with the fragments was almost certainly once attached to this sole.
Artifact 2-2-G-7/6 through 8 fragmentseyelet
Description: These are fragments of an unknown material (possibly leather) approximately 1/8 inch in thickness.
Condition: The material is hard, brittle and, in some cases, has curled inward along its edges.
Identification: Unknown. These may be pieces of the layered base which goes between the sole and the replaceable part of the heel.
Artifact 2-2-G-7/9, Brass eyelet
Description: This is a brass eyelet with a diameter of 5/16 inch and a depth of 1/16 inch. The hole has a diameter of 1/8 inch.
Condition: Tarnished but otherwise undamaged.
Identification: Such an eyelet might have many uses but the context in which it was found suggests that it was employed as a shoelace grommet. The aperture is too small to accommodate the laces of a man’s shoe but exactly match the traditional 1/16 inch laces for women’s shoes.
General Commentary:

shoe on wingThe shoe from which Artifact 2-2-G-7 originated was a woman’s blucher oxford with brass eyelets and a replacement heel manufactured in the United States in the mid-1930s. The size was 8 and 1/2 or 9 narrow. The style and size of shoe worn by Amelia Earhart at the time of her disappearance is shown in this detail from a photo taken in Bandoeng, Java about 10 days before her final flight. Amelia is wearing a woman’s blucher-oxford with brass eyelets. There are many photos of AE wearing these shoes. The slightly lighter color at the bottom portion of the heel first appears in photos taken just prior to the first world flight attempt in March, 1937 and may indicate a replacement heel. The size of the shoe is readily determined. The rows of rivets visible on the Lockheed’s wing are nominally 2.5 inches apart. The shoe in the photo is slightly over 10 inches in length, in other words, a size 8 and 1/2 or 9.

Since the discovery of Artifact 2-2-G-7 was announced in 1992, there has been a great deal of discussion about Amelia’s shoe size. A pair of size 6 dancing slippers in a Kansas museum and the recollections of Earhart’s sister have been cited as evidence that AE had tiny feet. AE was 5 feet 8 inches tall and of thin and lanky build. Whatever size shoes she may have worn as a girl, there can be little doubt about the size of shoe worn by the 39 year old woman standing on the Lockheed’s wing. It is also difficult to dismiss as coincidence, the oft-repeated story of how, in late 1938, the first Gilbertese work party on Nikumaroro came upon the skeletal remains of a white man and woman on the same part of the atoll where TIGHAR found shoe fragments 53 years later. According the old story, the woman’s skeleton was wearing American shoes, size nine narrow.

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