TO AMELIA EARHART?
a person disappears, a hundred theories spring into action. When a famous adventurous and courageous woman -- the first
aviator to cross the Atlantic in 1928, and to do it alone in 1930 -- disappears, it's not enough to accept the fact that
she missed her mid-Pacific island destination in 1937 and fell 300 meters to the bottom of the sea, or that she and her navigator
died trying to survive on an uninhabited coral reef known as Nikumaroro, located at 41.8° S by 174.5°W. We need proof.
An organization named TIGHAR (The International
Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) (see: https://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/AEdescr2.html) has spent several years combing the area's atolls and islands and finding clues such as an abandoned campsite, and
scattered artifacts that include parts of a man's and a woman's shoe. They have recorded rumors, including the
discovery of a partial skeleton three years after the disappearance, later analyzed to be a woman's. Last year a TIGHAR searcher found a tiny bone.
So far, the theory is that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, on almost the last leg of a circumnavigation of the earth at the
Equator, headed for Howland Island, instead deviated from the
path and went south a bit to uninhabited Nikumaroro, for reasons unknown, and landed on a reef where their plane was ultimately
sunk by waves. They, the theory goes, survived on fish and birds and rain water, until... Traces of Noonan have never been
found. For a good account of finding things on the island,see a TIGHAR video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZDWOqPZ23A
Betchart Expeditions is running its final mission with TIGHAR to Nikumaroro, and this year they will be accompanied by forensic dogs. The wild island
is inhabited by large and aggressive crabs which take their prey home -- down holes in the sand where they store their
catch. Since no other evidence of human bodies exists on the island, despite stories, perhaps the crabs over the years
took their small bones down where they are today. Dogs, specially trained to dig out buried human evidence, will be walked
across the beaches in hopes of finding some DNA-provable remnants from the fateful crash in July, 1937.
It's a fascinating theory,
and Betchart invites you to join them June 21 to July 11, on the 80th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance. Fly from LAX
to Fiji, board the M/V Reef Endeavor and travel 1,000 miles in the wild Pacific to Nikumaroro, coincidentally
the largest marine sanctuary in the world. You'll have the best of both worlds: the mysterious ephemeral sea-lashed reef and
the very comfortable Reef Endeavor for meals, sleep, and daily discussion. About $9,000, call 800-252-4910; see http://betchartexpeditions.com/aus-nz_amelia_earhart.htm
Amelia Earhart, about 30 years old. (photo©wikicommons/library
of Congress prints and photographs)
Tall and slender Earhart with her Lockheed
Model 10 Electra. (Photo©USAF, wikimedia)
Nikumaroro, from space. The
reef fringes a lagoon, but boats do not fit the opening. Dense forest borders the sandy beach.
Earhart loved airplanes, including this snappy Lockheed Vega 5B currently on
exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.