For 75 years Amelia Earhart’s fate has been a mystery. During flight around the world that would have lasted around 29,000 miles she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared. When flying over the Pacific, Noonan and Earhart were low on fuel and determined they weren’t going to reach their next destination, Howland Island. Earhart didn’t know Morse code and had trouble communicating with the U.S. Coast Guard over the radio frequencies she was using. The last thing heard from Earhart and Noonan was “We must be on you but cannot see you. Gas is running low, have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” Then…silence. The aviation darling of the U.S. went missing and after a massive search of the Pacific islands the pair was flying over, the search was called off in 1937.
Earhart was declared legally dead two years later but that didn’t stop the rumors about what happened to her. Some people said she was captured by the Japanese and put to death. For decades people speculated that the plane just went down and the wreckage sat 17,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean alongside planes that were shot down during WWII.
New evidence has probably found the truth. Nikumaroro Island is a small Pacific atoll just over a mile long right in the path where U.S. rescuers thought Earhart and Noonan’s plane was flying. It would’ve been manageable to land on and a search in 1938 found what was determined to be the remains of a tall-ish, Caucasian woman. Also found was airplane debris, a woman’s shoe, cigarette lighters (Noonan smoked), a man’s shoe, and Plexiglas debris that matched the plane Earhart went down in.
Lending even more credibility to that theory is that the U.S. military picked up radio signals from that atoll hours apart from each other. The radio signals would’ve been sent by the plane, then partly submerged by water, and the time lapses could be explained by the rising and lowering tides. Csmonitor.com has the following report on the some new evidence:
“Using what fuel remained to turn up the engines to recharge the batteries, they continued to radio distress signals for several days until Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra aircraft was swept off the reef by rising tides and surf. Using equipment not available in 1937 – digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs, TIGHAR concluded that 57 of the 120 signals reported at the time are credible, triangulating Earhart’s position to have been Nikumaroro Island.”
As if that weren’t enough, even more circumstantial evidence has been found at Nikumaroro. On the still-uninhabited island was a jar of ointment, which was likely used to cover up freckles. From Discovery News:
“Found broken in five pieces, the ointment pot was collected on Nikumaroro Island by researchers of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last, fateful flight taken by Earhart 75 years ago.
When reassembled, the glass fragments make up a nearly complete jar identical in shape to the ones used by Dr. C. H Berry’s Freckle Ointment. The ointment was marketed in the early 20th century as a concoction guaranteed to make freckles fade.
“It’s well documented Amelia had freckles and disliked having them,” Joe Cerniglia, the TIGHAR researcher who spotted the freckle ointment as a possible match, told Discovery News.”
While this evidence doesn’t technically confirm what happened to Earhart and Fred Noon, it’s hard to not be convinced. There’s a conference in Arlington, VA taking place from June 1st to 3rd to present this evidence and compare it to what’s been discovered in the past.