What Happened to Amelia Earhart? - Disappearance, Found and New Evidence

What Happened to Amelia Earhart? - Disappearance, Found and New Evidence

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On the morning of July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Lae, New Guinea, on one of the last legs in their historic attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Their next destination was Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean, some 2,500 miles away. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, waited there to guide the world-famous aviator in for a landing on the tiny, uninhabited coral atoll.

But Earhart never arrived on Howland Island. Battling overcast skies, faulty radio transmissions and a rapidly diminishing fuel supply in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra plane, she and Noonan lost contact with the Itasca somewhere over the Pacific. Despite a search-and-rescue mission of unprecedented scale, including ships and planes from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard scouring some 250,000 square miles of ocean, they were never found.

In its official report at the time, the Navy concluded that Earhart and Noonan had run out of fuel, crashed into the Pacific and drowned. A court order declared Earhart legally dead in January 1939, 18 months after she disappeared. From the beginning, however, debate has raged over what actually happened on July 2, 1937 and afterward. Several alternate theories have surfaced, and many millions of dollars have been spent searching for evidence that would reveal the truth of Earhart’s fate.

The Castaway Theory

In her last radio transmission, made at 8:43 am local time on the morning she disappeared, Earhart reported flying “on the line 157 337...running north and south,” a set of directional coordinates that describe a line running through Howland Island.

In 1989, an organization called the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) launched its first expedition to Nikumaroro, a remote Pacific atoll that is part of the Republic of Kiribati. TIGHAR and its director, Richard Gillespie, believe that when Earhart and Noonan couldn’t find Howland Island, they continued south along the 157/337 line some 350 nautical miles and made an emergency landing on Nikumaroro (then called Gardner Island). According to this theory, they lived for a period of time as castaways on the tiny, uninhabited island, and eventually died there.

U.S. Navy planes flew over Gardner Island on July 9, 1937, a week after Earhart’s disappearance, and saw no sign of Earhart, Noonan or the plane. But they did report seeing signs of recent habitation, though no one had lived on the atoll since 1892.

In 1940, British officials retrieved a partial human skeleton from a remote part of Nikumaroro; a physician subsequently measured the bones and concluded they came from a man. The bones themselves were later lost, but TIGHAR analyzed their measurements in 1998 and claimed that in fact they most likely belonged to a woman of European ancestry, of around Earhart’s height (5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8). In 2018, a forensic analysis of the bone measurements conducted by anthropologists from the University of Tennessee (in cooperation with TIGHAR) showed that “the bones have more similarity to Earhart than to 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample,” according to a university statement at the time.

Taken Prisoner by the Japanese

A competing theory argues that when they failed to reach Howland Island, Earhart and Noonan were forced to land in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands. According to this theory, the Japanese captured Earhart and Noonan and took them to the island of Saipan, some 1,450 miles south of Tokyo, where they tortured them as presumed spies for the U.S. government. They later died in custody (possibly by execution).

Since the 1960s, the Japanese capture theory has been fueled by accounts from Marshall Islanders living at the time of an “American lady pilot” held in custody on Saipan in 1937, which they passed on to their friends and descendants. Some of the theory’s advocates suggest that Earhart and Noonan were in fact U.S. spies, and their around-the-world mission was a cover-up for efforts to fly over and observe Japanese fortifications in the Pacific. At the time, more than four years before the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan was not yet the Americans’ enemy in World War II.

Some have suggested that Earhart didn’t die on Saipan after her capture, but was released and repatriated to the United States under an assumed name. Beginning in the 1970s, some proponents of this theory have argued that a New Jersey woman named Irene Bolam was in fact Earhart. Bolam herself vigorously denied these claims, calling them “a poorly documented hoax,” but they persisted even long after her death in 1982.

Lingering Mystery

Since 1989, TIGHAR has made at least a dozen expeditions to Nikumaroro, turning up artifacts ranging from pieces of metal (possibly airplane parts) to a broken jar of freckle cream—but no conclusive proof that Earhart’s plane landed there.

Amid ongoing controversy, spanning more than 80 years of debate among researchers and historians, the crash-and-sink theory remains the most widely accepted explanation of Earhart’s fate. But over three expeditions since 2002, the deep-sea exploration company Nauticos has used sonar to scan the area off Howland Island near where Earhart’s last radio message came from, covering nearly 2,000 square nautical miles without finding a trace of the wreckage of the Electra. Until that wreckage—or some other definitive piece of evidence—is found, the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s final flight will likely endure.

A documentary crew unearthed a 1937 photo that may show Amelia Earhart survived a crash-landing in the Pacific

Pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart was last heard from on July 2 1937, when her Lockheed Electra 10E plane vanished while she attempted a round-the-world flight with her navigator, Fred Noonan. By 1939, the US government concluded the duo must have been lost in the Pacific and declared them dead, though their remains were never found.

Eighty years later, a documentary team has unearthed photographic evidence that suggests Earhart and Noonan may have survived a crash landing in the Marshall Islands.

The photo above, previously classified and found by History in the US National Archives, has been analyzed by experts who believe it shows the duo (Noonan, standing on the left, and Earhart, sitting on the dock with her back to the camera) after the purported crash took place.

Additionally, NBC News reports the Japanese ship in the photograph’s background is shown “towing a barge with something measuring 38-feet long, the same length as Earhart’s plane.”

Shawn Henry, a former executive assistant director for the FBI, told NBC he saw the photo and other corroborating details as compelling evidence. “When you pull it out and when you see the analysis that has been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” he said.

The mystery of what happened to the legendary pilot has consumed historians, conspiracy theorists, and the general public for generations. As recently as June 28, a team of archaeologists with forensic dogs specifically trained for the mission embarked on a scouting of Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island 1,000 miles north of Fiji, in search of Earhart’s remains.

The newly-discovered photo was taken on nearby island Jaluit Atoll, about 1,325 miles from where the archaeology team headed, according to Google Maps.

That team is being led by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which previously conducted 12 searches for the pilot’s remains as part of The Earhart Project.

The group’s working theory was that Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro and survived for several days at least, sending distress signals. As Quartz wrote:

Although their plane wasn’t located, search crews saw signs of habitation there in the weeks after its descent and there is archaeological evidence that, decades later, residents of a short-lived British colonial project on the island found and used parts of the plane.

Just yesterday (July 4), The Earhart Project team filed a dispatch from the islands indicating growing frustration: “Two more days of excavation at the Seven Site have not produced bones,” the post reads. “The expedition has two more days – today and tomorrow. It has often been the case that discoveries happen in the final moments of an expedition. Let’s hope that the tradition continues.”

Now that this new evidence has been uncovered, the Earhart Project may have to try for a fourteenth mission.

Amelia Earhart Captured and Killed? New Evidence Debunks History Channel’s Crazy Theory

A new photo supposedly shows the aviatrix was taken alive, but eyewitness testimony unearthed by The Daily Beast shows the claim is false.

Clive Irving

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

A new theory about the fate of Amelia Earhart is seriously undermined by evidence obtained by The Daily Beast. The theory, to be aired Sunday in a History Channel documentary, claims that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were rescued by the Japanese after crash landing in the Marshall Islands and then taken to a Japanese prison where they died in captivity.

The pivot of the documentary’s case is a photograph, undated, of a wharf at Jaluit Island, one of the scores of atolls that make up the Marshall Islands. A forensic expert who specializes in facial recognition appears in the program to support the claim that Earhart and Noonan are among a group of people on the wharf.

Just beyond the wharf, in the harbor, is a Japanese military vessel identified as the Koshu Maru. The documentary suggests that after this picture was taken Earhart and Noonan were arrested and taken aboard the Koshu Maru and that a barge alongside contained the remains of their Lockheed Electra airplane.

According to the documentary, it is likely that the Koshu Maru then sailed for the island of Saipan where the two Americans were imprisoned and then killed.

The role of the Koshu Maru (maru means ship in Japanese) is therefore crucial to the theory that Earhart and Noonan are, indeed, the people in the photograph.

However, in 1982 a Japanese author and journalist, Fukiko Aoki, published a book in Japanese, Looking for Amelia. She found a surviving crewmember of the Koshu Maru, a telegraphist named Lieutenant Sachinao Kouzu. He told her that, like other Japanese ships in the western Pacific, they were told that Earhart had disappeared while over the ocean and were alerted to look out for any sign of the airplane and, if they did, seek to rescue Earhart and Noonan.

After a few days, said Kouzo, the alert was dropped. At no time did anyone on Koshu Maru set eyes on the Americans, alive or dead.

Aoki told The Daily Beast that her interest in the Earhart story was sparked when she read a story about four Japanese meteorologists who were assigned to a weather station on Greenwich Island in the South Pacific. As soon as they arrived at the station early in July 1937, they received a government message to look out for the aviators and, if they saw them, to organize a rescue operation. They saw nothing.

“The disappearance of Amelia Earhart looks so different from the Japanese and American sides,” Aoki told The Daily Beast. “One of the weathermen, an old guy called Yoneji Inoue, protested against the theory that Amelia was captured and executed by the Japanese. I wanted to find out what really happened. I found and checked the log of the Koshu Maru, but of course I couldn’t find any description of the capture of Amelia Earhart.”

Aoki later moved to New York where she became bureau chief for the Japanese edition of Newsweek. She has written 12 books. Looking for Amelia was republished as a paperback in 1995 but only in Japanese.

The four meteorologists were taken to Greenwich Island on the Koshu Maru, arriving on July 3, the day after Earhart disappeared. Greenwich Island is now named Kapingamaranji,and is 1,500 miles from the Marshall Island where the photo supposedly of Earhart was taken, which means that the vessel was nowhere near the Marshall Islands at the crucial time.

As Aoki’s research indicates, the assumption that the Japanese military was under orders to arrest and quietly kill Earhart and Noonan them shows little understanding of what was happening in the Pacific at the time.

The war in the Pacific didn’t begin with Pearl Harbor. It began on July 7, 1937, five days after Earhart disappeared, when a minor clash between Japanese and Chinese troops near Beijing suddenly turned into all-out war between the two nations.

The last thing the Japanese needed was to inflame American opinion by murdering the world’s most-famous woman. Although they had a formidable air force and navy the Japanese were distracted by Soviet Russia’s claims to Japanese islands and at that time they also feared American naval power in the Pacific. America, in turn, wanted no part of the war in China.

Just how anxious both the U.S. and Japan were to avoid conflict was revealed by an incident in December 1937. An American gunboat, the USS Panay, that was allowed to patrol the Yangtze River by international agreement, was called in to evacuate staff from the U.S. embassy in Nanking, as well as some international journalists as the Japanese carpet-bombed the city.

The Panay sailed upriver to what the captain thought would be a safe refuge and anchored alongside other boats laden with Chinese refugees.

But a swarm of Japanese bombers attacked all the boats, including the Panay. Two U.S. crewmen and an Italian journalist were killed. The Japanese claimed that the attack was an accident. President Roosevelt was so anxious that the bombing should not lead to calls for retaliation that he censored newsreel footage. The Japanese, alarmed that they might have awakened a sleeping tiger, paid $2.2 million in compensation.

Then there is how the Japanese treated Charles Lindbergh.

In August 1931, he flew from Alaska across the Bering Sea to Japan in a seaplane with his wife Anne. Thick fog forced Lindbergh to make a blind landing using only his instruments. After touchdown, with the engine shut down, the airplane drifted dangerously close to rocks and was rescued by a Japanese boat that towed them to a safe harbor.

When they reached Tokyo the Japanese gave the Lindberghs a welcome that one newspaper said was “one of the greatest demonstrations ever seen in the ancient capital.”

As for Earhart, there was no military intelligence value to the Japanese in getting their hands on her Lockheed Electra. The Electra was widely used by airlines across the world and held no technological secrets. By 1937 the Japanese were mass-producing a Mitsubishi bomber so far superior to the similarly-sized Electra that when it was converted to an airliner it flew a record-breaking round-the-world flight.

The theory that Earthart crash landed in the Marshall Islands is not supported by the basic rules of geography and navigation. It rests on the idea that, once Earhart realized she had missed a scheduled rendezvous with a U.S. Coast Guard cutter on tiny Howland Island, she reversed direction.

The Marshall Islands are 800 miles northwest of Howland Island, way beyond the range of the Electra as it was running low on gas at the end of a long leg from Papua New Guinea, over the Pacific.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan's 1937 World Flight Attempt

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Her only option was to look for a landing place that was much closer and, ideally, ahead of her rather than far behind.

Her last message to the cutter was at 8:43 a.m. on July 2. It was that she was flying on a line of 157 337 – that is, the southeasterly course from her starting point that intersected Howland Island. Because of an unexplained problem with the Electra’s radio, the cutter could receive her messages but she couldn’t receive the replies.

As a result, in the 80-year search for Earhart there is nothing to go on to point to her final position beyond what was in that radio transmission. Yet on the basis of that one transmission we arrive at the next most prominent theory about Earhart’s fate.

This takes us to an atoll named Nikumaroro Island, 350 miles southeast of Howland Island, and to Ric Gillespie, chief executive of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, TIGHAR.

Gillespie is the best funded and most persistent of all Earhart hunters. Since 1989 he has directed 12 expeditions to Nikumaroro, partly funded by National Geographic, and each expedition follows the same pattern: advance publicity that garners a gullible audience and funds, followed by negligible results, some bordering on the ludicrous.

Gillespie gave scientific credence to his theory by analyzing 120 reports of radio traffic in the area of Nikumaroro at the time and deciding that 57 messages were possibly transmitted from the Electra, beginning three hours after the final transmission picked up by the Coast Guard cutter.

To believe this demands two leaps of faith or, more likely, of the imagination. The first is that Earhart managed to land on the atoll and the second is that she did so with such skill that her radio remained able to operate.

Such a landing would have required a near miraculous feat of airmanship. Nikumaroro is a typical coral atoll sitting atop a volcano with a rocky reef looping around a lagoon with only a tiny appendage of flat surface. And although she did not lack courage, Earhart was not a pilot of natural intuitive skills, like Lindbergh, and the Electra was an unforgiving machine in a marginal situation like this.

TIGHAR / Barcroft USA /Getty

Earhart, under the stress of knowing that her fuel was running out, would have had to align her approach over water at a shallow angle and make a finely-judged touchdown with no margin of error. Landing on an aircraft carrier would be much easier.

For the radio signal theory to have any credence the airplane then had to remain undamaged by water – for days.

For a fraction of the money that TIGHAR has invested and is still investing in its expeditions they could have commissioned a computer program to simulate the landing. All the necessary data about the handling characteristics of the Electra and the probable weather and sea conditions at the time are available. The trouble is, of course, that this would prove the impossibility of the idea.

Gillespie was, not surprisingly, dissed when told of the History Channel “revelation” about the Marshall Islands.

“This is just a picture of a wharf at Jaluit with a bunch of people, it’s just silly,” he said.

This happened when Gillespie had just sent another expedition to Nikumaroro, this time including four sniffer dogs trained by the Institute for Canine Forensics. The dogs arrived wearing life vests when the temperature was more than 100 degrees. They were looking for human remains – the latest spin of the theory being that Earhart and Noonan had perished there.

The Earhart saga will go on providing endless fuel for lovers of the classic vanishing airplane narratives. People in the grip of a pet theory will go to great lengths to believe in that theory on the thinnest evidence. Gillespie, for example, seized on the discovery of a jar of 1930s ointment for the treatment of freckles found in the waters near Nikumaroro as evidence that Earhart, famously freckled, had made it to the island.

Freckles would not have been of much concern as Earhart planned her flight. Nothing that was not essential was carried in the Electra. She was piloting what was virtually a flying gas station. In place of passenger seats the airplane was stuffed with six large extra gas tanks and had another six in the wings, as well as having to carry 80 gallons of oil for its hot-running supercharged engines.

There is, to be sure, no reason to stop looking for Earhart, Noonan and the Electra. The odds are that after a desperate search for land they ended up, out of fuel, ditching into the ocean, and then plunged as far as 17,000 feet down to the bottom of the ocean. They most certainly didn’t die in a Japanese prison.

Evidence shows Amelia Earhart and her Irish American navigator may have survived crash

The eighty-year-old mystery surrounding the fate of aviator Amelia Earhart and her Irish American navigator, Fred Noonan, has either been solved or is possibly close to being solved.

The purported answer to the Earhart riddle and the possible answer are not the same. Indeed they are separated by vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean.

The Earhart case, one of the great mysteries of the past century, was seemingly blown wide open Sunday evening by a two hour documentary on the History Channel that featured the investigation work of three former U.S. government employees – a former top FBI agent, an ex-Treasury Department agent and a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot.

Read more

The work of the three stands in ironic contrast to a central contention of the documentary – that the U.S. military was aware that Earhart and Noonan had been taken prisoner by Japanese forces occupying the Marshall Islands in July 1937 - but that nothing was done or said because the U.S. had cracked Japanese codes and did not want to reveal this fact by raising Earhart’s disappearance.

Another pivotal piece of the documentary’s case comes in the form of a photograph discovered by one of the investigating threesome in the National Archives, the former Treasury agent, Les Kinney.

The photo, apparently misfiled for decades, shows people on a harbor dock on Jaluit Island in the Marshall chain.

A man standing on the left is Caucasian and believed to be Chicago-born Noonan. A woman seated in the background with her back to the camera (and wearing pants which was Earhart’s habit) is believed to be Earhart.

A ship in the background is towing an aircraft on a barge.

The ship is identified as the Koshu Maru and the aircraft, through expert analysis of the photo shown in the documentary, matches the specifications of Earhart’s aircraft, a twin-engined Lockheed Electra.

The documentary contends that Earhart and Noonan, off course and facing into a Pacific storm, had turned around and began flying to what they thought were the Gilbert Islands.

But they were farther north than they believed and instead ended up making a rough landing on an atoll in the Marshalls, Mili Atoll.

The two were taken into custody by the Japanese and the trail ultimately leads to the island of Saipan where Noonan was executed and Earhart may have died from the effects of dysentery.

However, this is where the progress of the documentary’s account hits a snag.

An effort to recover bones from a believed gravesite for the two on Saipan turns up no remains, though a documentary made in the 1960s – and highlighted in the History Channel account - did claim to have recovered bone fragments.

Those fragments, however, are nowhere to be found today.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a search going on for the remains of Earhart and Noonan.

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The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is currently focusing on Nikumaroro Island, nearly 1,000 miles from the Marshall Islands, and part of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati.

According to group’s website, it sent four border collies — named Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley — to the island on June 30 as part of an expedition sponsored by TIGHAR and the National Geographic Society.

According to National Geographic, TIGHAR researchers had previously visited the island and narrowed their search to a clearing they call the “Seven Site,” where a British official reported finding bones in 1940.

Added the TIGHAR account: “In 2001 searchers located unearthed possible signs of an American castaway at the site, including the remains of campfires, and several U.S.-made items including a jackknife, a woman’s compact.

“Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on their way to a refueling stop at Howland Island, about 350 nautical miles northeast of Nikumaroro.

“TIGHAR’s theory is that, when the aviators couldn’t find Howland, they landed on Nikumaroro’s reef during low tide.

“All four dogs alerted to a particular spot, indicating they had detected the scent of human remains, and excavation began on July 2, the 80th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

“No bones have been found, but TIGHAR researchers collected soil samples, which have been sent to a lab for DNA testing. If she were buried there, the soil could still contain traces of Earhart’s DNA.”

Fred Noonan was born in April, 1893 in the Chicago area. Earhart was born four years later so this year marks the 120th anniversary of her birth.

Noonan’s father, Joseph T., had been born in Maine and his mother, Catherine Egan, in London.

The many theories surrounding the fate of Earhart and Noonan only continue to multiply with the passing years, but the two latest searches seem to be closing in on the possible truth.

But which one is the truth?

Indeed, will either turn out to be true?

Absent some top secret government file with all the answers, hard work, luck, and a smoking gun in the form of DNA will be the most likely solution to this enduring riddle of the skies, and the seas.

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This article appears courtesy of the Irish Echo. For more, visit their website.

1. Amelia Earhart vanished in 1937

Amelia Earhart, an internationally famous aviation pioneer, celebrity, entrepreneur, and writer, disappeared without a trace while on a well-promoted round-the-world flight in 1937. A massive search conducted by the US Navy at the time failed to produce any evidence of her fate. Additional privately funded searches likewise yielded nothing. The Navy concluded that Amelia and her flying companion, navigator Fred Noonan, drifted off-course while attempting to reach tiny Howland Island in the Pacific, ran out of fuel, and crashed into the ocean. Almost immediately dissent over the finding arose. Numerous radio operators, both amateur and professional, claimed to have heard messages from Amelia in the days following her disappearance.

The radio signals, using the process of triangulation, convinced some that Earhart and Noonan landed successfully on an unknown island. There they survived for an undetermined length of time before succumbing to starvation, thirst, the elements, or some other, more nefarious cause. The war in the Pacific pushed aside speculation over Earhart&rsquos disappearance for a time. Afterward, reports of veterans of that war seeing Earhart&rsquos grave, or overhearing talk of her being in the hands of the Japanese, reinvigorated those determined to discover her fate. Numerous theories emerged, and forensic investigations of human activity began to focus on the tiny atoll of Gardner Island, known today as Nikumaroro, as Amelia&rsquos ultimate destination. They began with a photograph taken by a British officer named Eric Bevington.

Search for the Electra

After the Itasca received the last transmission from Earhart they immediately began searching for any wreckage or sign of the plane, but their efforts were in vain. Soon others joined the search, including the United States Navy, but they found no evidence of the plane. A week after her disappearance the Navy flew over the small island chain called Gardner Island (what we now call Nikumaroro) where they were able to see that there was some evidence that someone had lived there, but after multiple fly-overs, they found no signs of life there. It was said that it was possible that Earhart and Noonan made a landing there and then took off again, but there was no legitimate proof. The search efforts lasted until July 19 and were called off after no proof was found of a crash.

“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.” — Amelia Earhart

Could New Clues Solve Amelia Earhart Disappearance?

Amelia Earhart, seen in the cockpit of a plane.


One of the 20th century’s most enduring mysteries may at last finally be drawing to a close.

Last week, researchers studying the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart revealed that they had stumbled upon a possible anti-freckle cream jar that could have belonged to Earhart herself on a remote island in the western Pacific. Since then, more evidence has surfaced, suggesting that radio distress calls from Earhart’s plane may have been dismissed in the days after her disappearance as search and rescue operations waned.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has been studying Earhart’s famous last flight, presented the evidence last Friday during a three-day symposium covering their findings.

Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937 when her plane went missing somewhere over the middle of the Pacific. According to the group, a series of radio distress calls fueled a U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search for Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, after her disappearance in early July. But when the search failed, the radio calls were considered bogus, and were subsequently ignored.

It is now believed that Earhart and Noonan crashed on Nikumaroro Island in the western Pacific, where they radioed for help until the Lockheed Electra aircraft was swept away. At that point, they could no longer make calls for help, relying on their wits and chance. The group hypothesizes that Earhart’s remain still lie somewhere on the island.

In other cases, credible sources in widely separated locations in the U.S., Canada, and the central Pacific, reported hearing a woman requesting help [on the radio]. She spoke English, and in some cases said she was Amelia Earhart…

At the same time, an amateur radio operator in Melbourne, Australia, reported having heard a “strange” code which included KHAQQ, Amelia’s call sign.

TIGHAR also presented several glass fragments found on the fateful island, which reassemble to make up a jar identical in shape to the packaging of Dr.‭ ‬C.‭ ‬H Berry’s Freckle Ointment, a pharmaceutical marketed in the early 20th century to make freckles fade.

Joe Cerniglia, one of the researchers on the team, told Discovery News, “It’s well documented Amelia had freckles and disliked having them.”

The fragments were discovered at the same location as the partial skeleton of a castaway, found in 1940:

Found with the skeletal remains at that time were part of a man’s shoe,‭ ‬part of a woman’s shoe,‭ ‬a box that had once contained a sextant,‭ ‬remnants of a fire,‭ ‬bird bones and turtle bones‭ — ‬all suggesting that the site had been the castaways’ camp.‭

The research group will launch another expedition to Nikumaroro Island next month. July 2 marks the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

Amelia Earhart's Plane Possibly Found in Nikumaroro Lagoon

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. , May 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As if right under our nose, an image suggesting Amelia Earhart's plane is submerged at the Taraia spit in Nikumaroro lagoon. Formerly known as Gardner Island and believed to be the final resting place of the aviatrix. This slightly murky image found in 2021, may hold the location of the wreckage that's been hidden away in its watery grave for more than eight decades. Possibly in better shape than expected, though being in two pieces. This time capsule could hold the clues to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan's disappearance on that fateful day.

In 2020 an object is discovered showing what maybe a large piece of plane wreckage exhibiting angles that are curiously consistent in size and shape to some aircraft parts. Most likely a section of wing, though not yet substantiated. This possible wing portion now known as the Taraia Object was found by Navy Veteran Michael Ashmore on Apple Maps. More supporting evidence decades apart may show plane has been there ever since Amelia put it down in the lagoon all those years ago. Coming in hard and severing part of a wing that settled adjacent to the main body of aircraft. Her Lockheed Electra slowly sinking into the watery sandbank as tidal movements buried it.

During further investigation of Nikumaroro Island (a possible message in the sand) was discovered by Robert Ashmore on Google Earth 2021. Located on a lagoon beach, it could've seen from more than 5000 feet up or on approach to the island. Which may also suggest the pair of aviators were actively trying to be seen by anyone, though most likely being written too late for Navy search planes to see. The SOS messages would've been written large in clearings around the island. Our first and largest to date has possibly been deciphered as Amelia's radio call sign (KHAQQ), approximately over two hundred feet long that could possibly link the missing fliers to this island.

Amelia Earhart mystery solved? Scientist '99 percent' sure bones found belong to aviator

The 81-year-old mystery surrounding American aviator Amelia Earhart’s disappearance has baffled sleuths for decades, but a U.S. forensic expert has published new evidence in ‘Forensic Anthropology’ that bones discovered on Nikumaroro Island may be hers.

A scientific study claims to shed new light on the decades-long mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart.

Richard Jantz, an emeritus anthropology professor at the University of Tennessee, argues that bones discovered on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro in 1940 were likely Earhart’s remains. The research contradicts a forensic analysis of the remains in 1941 that described the bones as belonging to a male. The bones, which were subsequently lost, continue to be a source of debate.

Earhart, who was attempting to fly around the world, disappeared with navigator Fred Noonan on July 2, 1937, during a flight from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island in the Pacific.

The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart was one of the most famous people in the world at the time of her disappearance. Thus, a number of theories have emerged about her fate.

This May 20, 1937 photo, provided by The Paragon Agency, shows aviator Amelia Earhart at the tail of her Electra plane, taken by Albert Bresnik at Burbank Airport in Burbank, Calif. (Albert Bresnik/The Paragon Agency via AP)

One well-publicized theory is that Earhart died a castaway after landing her plane on the remote island of Nikumaroro, a coral atoll 1,200 miles from the Marshall Islands. Some 13 human bones were found on Nikumaroro, also known as Gardner Island, three years after Earhart’s disappearance.

In 1941, the bones were analyzed by Dr. David Hoodless, principal of the Central Medical School, Fiji. However, Jantz says that modern analysis techniques may have delivered a different result, particularly with regard to gender.

“When Hoodless conducted his analysis, forensic osteology was not yet a well-developed discipline,” he explains in a paper published in the journal Forensic Anthropology. “Evaluating his methods with reference to modern data and methods suggests that they were inadequate to his task this is particularly the case with his sexing method. Therefore his sex assessment of the Nikumaroro bones cannot be assumed to be correct.”

Hoodless used 19th-century forensic science and described the bones as possibly belonging to a “short, stocky muscular European,” according to Jantz. The 1941 analysis described the remains belonged to a male around 5'5.5".


In 1937, famous aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan embarked upon a planned circumnavigation of the Earth via largely equatorial routes. Departing from Miami on June 1, Earhart and Noonan completed multiple legs of their journey without incident. They arrived at Lae, New Guinea on June 29. On July 2, the pair took off on the longest and most dangerous leg of the trip, from Lae to Howland Island, a tiny island in the Central Pacific. They never arrived, and a search effort was unable to locate the pair or their airplane, the Electra.

The "lost evidence" in question was a photograph found in the National Archives at College Park of Jaluit Atoll in the South Seas Mandate, the Japanese mandate for the Marshall Islands. The photograph includes two European-looking people. The documentary, through a forensic analyst who specialized in facial recognition, posited that it was "very likely" to be a picture of a captured Earhart and Noonan. [1] The Lost Evidence also says that a barge in the background might possibly contain a plane, and that plane might possibly have been the Electra. [2] The photograph was from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and prepared for the 1944 invasion of the Marshall Islands during World War II. The documentary suggested that a ship seen in the background flying a Japanese flag might be the Kōshū Maru, a Japanese military naval vessel, that would have been involved in transporting the captives. It suggests that perhaps the Kōshū Maru transported them to Saipan, where they died in custody. The documentary also cited existing evidence for the Japanese capture hypothesis, such as locals who claimed to have witnessed a plane crash at Mili Atoll. [3] It also suggested that the US government might have known about the capture and covered this knowledge up. [2]

Two days after publication of The Lost Evidence, Japanese historian and blogger Kota Yamano investigated the issue, and published a blog entry that showed the original source of the photograph that the ONI had used: a travel book The Lifeline of the Sea: My South Sea Memoir ( 海の生命線 我が南洋の姿 , Umi no seimeisen : Waga nannyou no sugata) , which was first published in 1935. [4] [5] Earhart and Noonan's final flight was in 1937, so a 1935 photo would be unrelated to Earhart and Noonan's disappearance. In an interview with The Guardian, Yamano criticized the work behind the documentary, saying "I find it strange that the documentary makers didn't confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That's the first thing they should have done." [6] Yamano also said that it only took thirty minutes of searching to find the source. [6] On Twitter, Yamano (as @baron_yamaneko) identified the ship in the right of the photo as a different ship called Kōshū seized by Allied Japanese forces in World War I from the German Empire and not the Kōshū Maru of the Japanese navy. [7] [8]

Skepticism had existed even before Yamano's blog post. The National Archives wrote in warning that the Archives' version of the photograph did not have a date. [9] Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the aeronautics department of the National Air and Space Museum, called the new evidence merely a "blurry photograph" and cited the existing evidence from radio transmissions that suggested that the Electra was at least close to Howland Island, 800 miles away from the Marshall Islands. [1] Author Fukiko Aoki, who researched and wrote a 1982 book, Looking for Amelia, was similarly critical before the revelations from Yamano. Aoki located an elderly officer, part of the 1937 crew of the Kōshū Maru, who denied the ship's involvement. Aoki subsequently researched the Kōshū Maru ship log, which showed that it was 1,500 miles away at the time of Earhart's disappearance. It was also argued that to reach and somehow land on the remote atoll where she purportedly crashed would have required Earhart, though low on fuel, to change her northeast course as she neared Howland Island and fly hundreds of miles northwest. Additionally, had Japanese officials found Earhart, they would have had substantial motivation to rescue and return her, considering her fame. [10] The claims of a U.S. government cover-up also came under criticism the documentary prominently mentions "a report dated January 7, 1939 that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands." [11] TIGHAR, a group that advocates the Gardner Island hypothesis of the disappearance, investigated the 1939 government report, which was not hard to find, and found that it was a report on an obvious prank—an implausible tale found in France from someone who did not identify themselves. The message told of being kidnapped by the Japanese, having his crew killed, finding Earhart in custody, then being sent to Europe on an unnamed Japanese ship. [11] TIGHAR wrote that the photo was "neither lost nor evidence" and that the picture had been "exactly where it should be, and was exactly what it was labeled to be, a picture of Jaluit Harbor," criticizing the "lost and misfiled photo" element of The Lost Evidence as well. [12] [13] [6]

In response, The History Channel cancelled rebroadcasts of the show, announced it would not be available on streaming or on-demand platforms, and stopped scheduled airings of the show in Canada and the United Kingdom. [14] It wrote in a press release that "HISTORY has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart, and we will be transparent in our findings . Ultimately, historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers." [14] [15]

As of December 2017, no response has yet come from the History Channel, for which skeptic Ben Radford criticized the network and its professionalism. [16] : 3:20 [17]

Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence was broadcast on July 9, 2017, and had 4.3 million viewers, a high number for a History Channel show. [18] Several news reports provided publicity for the documentary as well, saying that the Earhart case had possibly been solved, causing a burst of renewed interest in the case. [19] [20]