ECWG member Tom King FN’02 and colleagues including ECWG Vice-Chair Lonnie Schorer MN’98 and Andrew McKenna of the Rocky Mountain Chapter MN ’07 are organizing a research trip to Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands of Kiribati for the summer of 2017.
The research, to be carried out under the supervision of 10 to 15 experienced members of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and other experts will be combined and coordinated with a tour of the island sponsored by Betchart Expeditions of Cupertino, California. Although the tour is firmly scheduled, King and a committee are raising funds to help cover the costs of participating specialists.
Nikumaroro, now part of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), is where TIGHAR hypothesizes that aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed and died after their famous disappearance in 1937. In research to date, TIGHAR has found substantial evidence supporting the hypothesis, but plenty of conflicting data as well. Building on the results of a successful 2015 visit – the first-ever tourist cruise to the island, with a modest research agenda – the Betchart party plans to spend eight days on the island, investigating several specific locations on land and on the submerged coral reef slope. At the same time, the visit will give passengers the opportunity to get to know the remote, uninhabited island, famous not only for its possible Earhart connections but also for its giant coconut crabs (Birgus latro), abundant bird life, and flourishing though endangered coral reef.
While the research may uncover definitive evidence of Earhart’s presence on Nikumaroro, King does not rely on doing so. “I don’t believe that seeking ‘smoking guns’ is usually a good way to do scientific or historical research,” he says. The 2017 work will be focused on close examination of the archaeological site that may be where Earhart died, excavation of a newly discovered rock cairn that might mark Fred Noonan’s grave, and exploration of the deep reef slope using remotely operated vehicles supplied by Open ROV of Berkeley, California (http://www.openrov.com/) for possible fragments of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra.
For further information on the research and fundraising, contact Dr. King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on the tour, contact Betchart Expeditions at http://www.betchartexpeditions.com/
PIPA and Nikumaroro: www.phoenixislands.org/
Readings on TIGHAR’s Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Tom King’s Amelia Earhart Archaeology blog at http://ameliaearhartarchaeology.blogspot.com/, Tuesday November 10 2015.