Did Amelia Earhart Survive as a Castaway on a Deserted Island?

July 28, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Researchers with the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery are set to embark on an ambitious and costly expedition to solve, once and for all, the 72-year old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan. Her Lockheed A-10E Electra is believed to have run out of fuel somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, and she disappeared without a trace, never to be heard from again.

Elgen Long, 82, renowned Earhart expert and author of “Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved,” believes the evidence shows that she ran out of fuel and crashed in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere near Howland Island. Long discounts the many reports of radio messages coming from Earhart after she crashed, as hoaxes; end of story.

But Ric Gillespie, Executive Director for the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or Tighar, has theories of his own. Gillespie believes that Earhart survived the plane crash and became a castaway on an uninhabited island, named Nikumaroro Island, formerly known as Gardner Island, and she eventually died there alone.

In 1940, a group of workers on the island discovered bones and a campsite. The skeleton was sent to Fiji and misplaced, but reports indicated the bones were of a white European woman. Gillespie and a team of researchers went to the island in 2007, to search for bone remnants to obtain a DNA analysis.

They didn’t find any human remains, but did recover some personal effects of the presumed castaway, including early 20th-century makeup and two pieces of broken glass that match a 1930s compact mirror. Gillespie has since discovered it’s possible to extract DNA from objects, as long as they are not contaminated during the collection process.

The group was able to obtain a sample of mitochondrial DNA from a direct relative of Earhart for comparison. Armed with the family member’s DNA sample and a renewed determination to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart, Gillespie and his team plan to visit the island once again to search for additional artifacts that may have belonged to the missing pilot.

“We think we will be able to come back with DNA,” said Gillespie. “We have only excavated 5 percent of the campsite. There’s every reason to think there’s more stuff out there,” added Gillespie.

Gillespie and his team are also on the hunt to find Earhart’s downed plane. His team plans to conduct a new search in the Pacific near a reef in the same area where the Navy conducted its extensive search for Amelia Earhart over 70 years ago.

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4 Responses to “Did Amelia Earhart Survive as a Castaway on a Deserted Island?”

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