The International Group for the Recovery of Historic Aircraft (TIGHAR), has spent years testing one of the hypotheses that explain the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and his navigator Fred Noonan somewhere in the South Pacific July 2, 1937.
According to emergency radio broadcasts and finds of skeletal remains and aircraft parts in the 30s and 40s, indicates that the Lockheed Earhart Electra made an emergency landing on the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro, then known as Gardner Island, and that the aviator and her navigator survived the landing, but died shortly after.
At the time of his disappearance, the U.S. Navy considered Gardner and McKean Island likely candidatesas they were close to the position mentioned by Earhart in his July 2 broadcasts, but there was only one Navy ship, the USS Colorado, in the area and there were several conflicting reports to investigate, so Gardner was only superficially examined.
The tide was high as the planes flew over Gardner and there were waves crashing on the darkened northwest side of the reef, where residents later said they had seen an accident. However, the pilots reported seeing «recent housing signs', But he mistakenly thought that the island was inhabited at the time, so the signs weren't enough to send a landing party.
In October 1937, British colonial explorers reported having seen the remains of a camp in Gardner. The following year, the settlers reported seeing aircraft wreckage on the northwest reef. During the WWII, an American pilot said he saw the people of Gardner using an aircraft control cable to catch fish.
When asked about it, they said they had been found on the island when they got there. The settlers also found 13 human bones, a woman's shoe and a man's shoes. next to the remains of a campfire in the extreme southeast of the island. The bones were sent to Fiji for analysis.
They were examined by doctors who stated that the remains of an elderly Polynesian male and an adult of European or mixed race. Although their facilities were limited, the doctors did not send the bones to Australia for an in-depth examination.
Instead, they just lost them. All that remains of the bones now are their measurements, which turn out to be inconsistent with the gender and rudimentary ethnicity analysis that was conducted in 1940.
TIGHAR first took to the track in 1988, visiting McKean Island and then Nikumaroro. The first was sterile and dark, so it was not a good candidate for an emergency landing.
The second has a reef that is flat enough with some areas of land and a bright blue inland lagoon, which could be easily identifiable from 1000 meters in the air. They also found the wreckage of the plane that had been reused by the settlers when the island was briefly inhabited during the war.
On subsequent expeditions in 2007 and 2010, the researchers TIGHAR found the remains of campfires, clam shells, fish, turtles and bird bones, bone fragments that appear to be human, pieces of broken and molten glass bottles, a small glass jar, fragments of a beveled mirror, a chemical substance red, the remains of a zipper and a knife that had been disassembled.
TIGHAR reassembled the small glass jar and they found that was identical in shape to Dr. Berry's freckle salve bottles, very popular in the 20th century. Amelia Earhart had freckles, and unfortunately, he showed some contempt for them.
According to the Amelia biographyEven in the midst of her biggest hits like the New York parade after she became the first woman to be flown across the Atlantic in 1928, freckles had discouraged her from going out.
The jar is translucent glass, however, and all of the jars that survived are opaque or opalescent glass and are not exactly the same size as any of the other jars, so it may have been a special edition cream.
TIGHAR was able to trace the serial numbers and markings on the bottle pieces of other crystals found. Some green glass shards were once a bottle of «Joseph Nerve and Bone Family Liniment«, Bottle patented in 1933.
Some of the clear glass pieces come from a 1933 bottle of Campana Balm from Italy, the best-selling hand lotion in the US in the 1930s.
The evidence is circumstantial, but points strongly to the presence of an American woman in Nikumaroro in the 1930s. There is no way to know for sure if it was Amelia Earhart, unless investigators found identifiable pieces of her plane. or that DNA testing of skeletal remains identified her once and for all.
Until now, DNA analysis of bone fragments found by TIGHAR at the campfire site was inconclusive. TIGHAR, funded by private donors and in collaboration with the US State Department, will return to Nikumaroro this July. They will explore the deep waters around the island this time, hoping to find Amelia Earhart's plane.
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