Satellite Image of Nikumaroro Island (Gardner Island) in the Republic of Kiribati
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New evidence reported by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), a non-profit foundation promoting aviation archaeology and historic aircraft preservation shows that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan possibly landed and eventually died on Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati.
TIGHAR concluded that 57 of the 120 signals reported at the time are credible, triangulating Earhart’s position to have been Nikumaroro Island. Reports show that Amelia Earhart radioed their position, then landed on a reef at uninhabited Gardner Island, a small coral atoll now known as Nikumaroro Island that might have caused caused the “Electra” airliner to be swept away and that they lived for a time as castaways only to eventually perish on the uninhabited island.
Other evidence and artifacts found years ago on the island include broken glass, large numbers of fish, bird and turtle bones, several hundred mollusk shells, bone fragments, cosmetic jar, dried fecal matter that might be of human origin and a possible landing gear.
Amelia Earhart the first woman and the second person to solo the Atlantic was last heard from on July 2, 1937. Earhart and Noonan, low on fuel and unable to find their next scheduled stopping point Howland Island, flew into overcast skies and intermittent rain showers. This made Noonan’s premier method of tracking and celestial navigation difficult. Earhart radioed the USCGC Itasca and was sent a stream of transmissions but she could not hear them. Her radio transmissions, irregular through most of the flight, were faint or interrupted with static. The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45 Earhart reported, “We are on the line 157 337 …. We are running on line north and south.” Nothing further was heard from Earhart.
A rescue attempt commenced immediately and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history. On July 19, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation. In 1938, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory.
The expedition is on-going and TIGHAR researchers will return to the area to search for the famous aircraft “Electra” that was believed to have been swept off a Pacific reef in 1937.