One of the most compelling missing person's stories of the 20th century may have just gotten even more interesting. A member of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) now claims that aviator Amelia Earhart not only survived her crash in South Pacific back in 1937, but she lived for days on a remote island, where she continuously called for help from her aircraft's radio, with those calls being picked up by amateur radio operators all over the world at the time.
In recent years, TIGHAR has put considerable effort into searching for the remains of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and their aircraft. The group has made several expeditions to islands in the Pacific searching for evidence of what may have happened to her. They have found some compelling clues, but nothing that definitively says whether or not she or Noonan survived the crash, or even made it to one of the sites they have examined at all.
But according to Ric Gillespie, a member of TIGHAR, Earhart's calls for help were heard by a woman in Melbourne, Australia; a housewife in Texas who claims to have recognized her voice, and perhaps most intriguing of all – a teenager in Florida.
What makes the Florida teen's story so fascinating is that she scribbled notes based on what she was hearing, transcribing what was allegedly Earhart's broadcast. The teen wrote several times "New York, New York," seemingly referencing the city. But Gillespie believes that Earhart was actually saying "SS Norwich City," which was a ship that was abandoned on Nikumaroro island in 1929, the place that TIGHAR believes the aviator set down.
Today, we take flying around the world for granted, as thousands of aircraft take off from airports all over the globe each day. But back in 1937, it was still difficult to imagine circumnavigating the globe in a small aircraft. That was exactly what Earhart and Noonan were trying to do when they went missing. The pilot and navigator had set out from Lae Airfield in New Guinea the plan was to fly to Howland Island. But somewhere along the way they got off track, and couldn't find their destination.
Eventually they ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere int he Pacific, but exactly where has long been a mystery. After examining the flight plan, listening to radio broadcasts, and plotting potential courses, TIGHAR has come to believe that Earhart and Noonan landed in a shallow bay off the shore of Nikumaroro, which has been the subject of their searches in recent years. So far, they've come up with nothing, but they hope to return next July – the 80th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance – to look for her Electra aircraft. The group believes that the tide has carried it out to sea, and that they'll be able to find it using a submersible.
Over the years, here at The Adventure Blog we've followed various attempts to locate the missing aircraft that Earhart was flying when she went missing. So far, it has remained elusive, as finding an 80 year old aircraft in the middle of the Pacific is not going to be easy. But, I have to admit TIGHAR has made some interesting finds over the years, including a piece of scrap metal that has been positively linked to the aircraft she was flying. Will they be able to finally substantiate their claims? We'll just have to wait until next summer to find out.