The Niku Hypothesis

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The fundamental conjecture that TIGHAR has been investigating since 1987 is that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed on Nikumaroro on July 2, 1937.

In a New York Herald Tribune of 4 July 1937 Putnam quotes Mantz as saying that he believed "Miss Earhart landed on one of the Phoenix Islands, a group southeast of Howland."

Mantz himself elaborated in an interview that appeared in the same paper the next day, 5 July: "They had more than 1,000 gallons of gasoline when they left Lae, New Guinea for Howland Island." Mantz said tonight. "Flying at 150 miles an hour, the fuel would last them twenty-four hours or about 3,500 miles. Amelia couldn't have been out of gas last Friday ... an island or even a strip of coral would have been worth taking a chance. I would have done that myself. So there they probably are, sitting and waiting and sending messages."

TIGHAR has been testing the Niku hypothesis using various research methods since 1989. To date, no smoking gun has been found to clinch the theory; many pieces of circumstantial evidence point to the viability of the theory; the alternative theories do not seem to fit the facts as well as the Niku hypothesis.

Nikumaroro to Howland Island

"It's 350 nautical miles from Howland to Gardner [i.e., Nikumaroro]. At 130 knots (the Electra's normal cruising speed at altitude), that would take 2 hours and 41 minutes. But that doesn't mean much. We don't know how close she was to Howland and we don't know what speed she was using when she was 'running on line'" (Gillespie, Forum).