If you were ever a second grade girl, chances are good that you once wrote a report about Amelia Earhart. If you were anything like me, you were really, really excited to read about this pioneering aviatrix whose daring transatlantic and record-setting flights shattered early 20th century misconceptions about the role of women and earned her the nickname “Queen of the Air.” And then you were promptly really, really bummed when you read that she disappeared in her prime while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Sigh. You finished your report, gazed briefly at the speculations surrounding her untimely disappearance, and started your fractions homework. You moved on.
Like you, the world had largely forgotten about Amelia since her 1937 disappearance. That is, until December 14th, 2010, when researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced their possession of a fragment of what they believe to be Amelia Earhart’s finger bone.
After 22 years of rigorous research and 10 grueling expeditions, we can say that all of the evidence we have found on Nikumaroro is consistent with the hypothesis that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed and eventually died there as castaways.” – Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR Executive Director
Since the 1980s, TIGHAR’s Earhart Project has conducted global satellite sweeps in hopes of finding clues to Earhart’s death. Back in 1940, a British colonial officer found a partial skeleton along with a woman’s shoe, a wooden box that once contained a sexton, and discarded remains of turtle shells, clam shells and birds in what appeared to be a campsite on the uninhabited coral atoll of Nikumaroro Island. Tragically, these traces were lost over time, but because Nikumaroro lies close to where Earhart disappeared, TIGHAR chose to focus on this site starting in 1989 and sent 10 investigatory exhibitions to the island in the years to come.