Human Journey

New Evidence Suggests that Amelia Earhart May Have Landed Plane, Lived as Castaway on Kiribati Island

Amelia Earhart in Ireland.

When the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard failed to find any sign of Amelia Earhart after she vanished on July 2, 1937, it was assumed that the famous pilot and her navigator, Fred Noonan, died when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

However, new details have emerged suggesting that the true story of Earhart’s disappearance may be different – and more tragic – than originally thought.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has been conducting an investigation into whether Earhart may have actually managed to land her plane on a reef off of Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati) and survived there with Noonan for a period of time before eventually perishing, undiscovered.

TIGHAR presented its findings during a three-day conference last week.  Among the evidence?  The remains of a glass bottle believed to have contained cosmetic ointment used by the aviatrix, and dozens of radio signals previously dismissed, but which investigators now think may have been credible transmissions – distress calls made by Earhart from her Lockheed Model Electra plane, before a rising tide washed it under the waves.

An expedition to locate Earhart’s plane using high-tech underwater search equipment will be launched next month – the 75th anniversary of the pilot’s disappearance.

For all the latest science news, check out the National Geographic’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

Alyson Foster works in the National Geographic Library where she purchases books for the Library’s collection and assists NG staff with finding research materials.
  • Ima Ryma

    Amelia Earhart update.
    New disappearance news appears
    On the mystery of her fate,
    Flying back 75 years.
    She may have been a castaway
    On Kiribati Island reef.
    Cosmetic ointment of her day,
    Used by her for freckle relief.
    Found are glass remnants of a jar,
    Once containing the same skin cream.
    Pieces of evidence – bizarre!
    An Earhart scavenger hunt dream!

    Though her freckles are long, long gone,
    Amelia Earhart lives on.

  • Abdulkarim Atto

    TIGHAR-I honestly believe that Amelia’s plane crashed in the ocean. Howealse can you explain total silence? If she had landed on an island she would have been able send credible
    signal to rescuers. If Steve Fosset who aperently crashed over land in this era of excellent electronic equipment is difficult to trace , Iam not disappointed by your failure to trace Amelia.Just keep on trying. You have our moral support.

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