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This is Temou Samuela, the carpenter on Nikumaroro in 1940. He built the box that held the bones and, according to his daughter, knew about the wrecked airplane on the reef. See “The Carpenter’s Daughter.”
© TIGHAR 1999 Volume 15

...that they might escape the teeth of time
and the hands of mistaken zeal.

– John Aubrey
Stonehenge Manuscripts


Problems and Progress
Niku IIIIP: Expedition Report
The Fiji Bone Search
Context: The Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme
Mrs. O’Brian
The Carpenter’s Daughter
Where Were the Bones?
Gallagher’s Clues
The TIGHAR Hypothesis
TIGHAR Tracks: The First Fifteen Years
Appendix: Interviews with Emily Sikuli

TIGHAR (pronounced “tiger”) is the acronym for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting responsible aviation archeology and historic preservation. TIGHAR’s activities include:

  • Compiling and verifying reports of rare and historic aircraft surviving in remote areas.
  • Conducting investigations and recovery expeditions in co-operation with museums and collections worldwide.
  • Serving as a voice for integrity, responsibility, and professionalism in the field of aviation historic preservation.

TIGHAR maintains no collection of its own, nor does it engage in the restoration or buying and selling of artifacts. The foundation devotes its resources to the saving of endangered historic aircraft wherever they may be found, and to the education of the international public in the need to preserve the relics of the history of flight.

Board of Directors

No longer listed in archival materials; see current materials for board members.

Problems and Progress
The last year of the 20th century was an intense and difficult, but ultimately very productive year for TIGHAR.
Two Expeditions

For the first time we ran two simultaneous expeditions to the Pacific: a reconnaissance for the Niku IIII expedition which we called Niku IIIIP (for Preliminary), and a search in Fiji for the bones brought there in 1941, creatively termed The Fiji Bone Search. Although Niku IIIIP found no new Earhart-related artifacts on Nikumaroro and the Fiji Bone Search failed to turn up the bones, the summer’s field work did succeed in uncovering an abundance of new and unexpected information which may prove to be the key to finding conclusive physical evidence. This issue of TIGHAR Tracks tells the story of what we learned.

Video Delayed

Our biggest disappointment this year was the loss of most the videotape that was shot during the summer’s expedition to Nikumaroro. Enroute back to the U.S. from Fiji some of the baggage was left behind by the airline to lighten the aircraft for takeoff due to unfavorable runway conditions. When the baggage finally caught up with us a week later, the videotapes were missing. We’ve made every effort to recover them but to no avail. We’ll still make the promised video of Nikumaroro – we have lots of other footage to work from – but production will be delayed somewhat. We appreciate your patience.

One Big TIGHAR Tracks

The constraints of time and the lack of a sponsor for production costs prevented us from publishing TIGHAR Tracks on schedule, and for that we are truly sorry. This single large issue covers the entire year. We’re hoping to reurn to a more regular publication schedule in 2000 – and we’re still looking for a sponsor.


Although many new members joined TIGHAR during 1999, primarily through the TIGHAR website and Earhart Forum, an almost equal number of members who are not on line decided not to renew their membership, doubtless because of our failure to stay in touch with them. We recognize the problem and intend to correct it. The ease, speed and economy of communication afforded by the internet and email does not absolve us of our responsibility to serve that portion of our membership which does not yet have, or perhaps does not want, that capability. Members who dropped out during 1999 are receiving this issue of TIGHAR Tracks, and we hope that, if you let your membership lapse, you will consider re-joining. You can even have your old membership number back.

Voyage of Discovery

TIGHAR’s multi-disciplinary educational program built around the Earhart Project is still in search of funding. Grant proposals to two large federal programs in 1999 were unsuccessful but we’re convinced of the program’s merit and are determined to find sponsorship for it.


The TIGHAR internet website, instituted in November 1996 with about 50 visitors per week, now hosts an average of well over 1500 visitors per day. Periodic research bulletins report the latest findings and the Document of the Week series makes available rare primary source information. There are photos and maps, articles from TIGHAR Tracks, and even film of Earhart’s last takeoff. New features are being added weekly.

“Love to Mother”

That unlikely phrase, often abbreviated “LTM,” has become the traditional tag line of The Earhart Search Forum. TIGHAR’s online research group has grown to more than 600 email subscribers and generates between a dozen and two dozen messages every day. The quality of postings is very high and the Forum has proven itself to be a powerful research tool.

The 8th Edition

TIGHAR’s Earhart investigation status report, offically entitled “The Earhart Project– An Historical Investigation” and often referred to as simply “the Project Book,” was last published as a 7th Edition in May 1993. During 1999 seven TIGHAR author/researchers prepared detailed reports in their various areas of expertise for the greatly expanded 8th Edition. Now in the editing and lay-out phase, this massive work is slated for publication in the spring of 2000. We start the new century with a new understanding of one of the old century’s most perplexing riddles, and with a stronger-than-ever organization with which to find the final pieces of the puzzle. And you, the members of TIGHAR, have made it possible. We thank you.

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