Friday, June 4, 2010

Major Mystery of the 20th Century Solved?

For seventy-three years it has been one of the most intriguing mysteries to capture international attention. 

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan took from from Lae with the intended destination of Howland Island some 2,556 miles away.  The last known position of Earhart and Noonan was a mere 800 miles into the flight near the Nukumanu Islands.  Approximately one hour after Earhart's last message, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) ship Itasca began search efforts that proved to be unsuccessful.  No trace of Earhart's twin-engine plane, a 1935 Lockheed Electra 10E, or of Earhart and Noonan were to be found.  The search was called off July 19, 1937.  To that point in history, the $4 million air and sea search by the USCG and US Navy was the most expensive and intense search in United States history.

In the years since that historic flight, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan have been the subject of much spectulation, rumor and theory.  Just what did happen on that fateful day in July 1937?  Did they crash into the sea and drown?  Did they crash on Saipan Island and were executed by Japanese troops?  Perhaps we shall never know.  Or will we?

New clues have surfaced that might just solve the mystery once and for all.

Over the course of twenty-one years and ten visits, researchers have scoured Nikumaroro, a remote island in the South Pacific where they believe Earhart and Noonan spent their final days.  The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has found several artifacts they feel might shed a little more light on the Earhart disappearance.  Three pieces of a pocket knife and fragments of a broken cosmetic jar are the latest artifacts that have been found.  According to Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR believes that "touch DNA" can be taken from the objects and compared to an Earhart DNA reference sample held by a DNA lab working with TIGHAR. 

Nikumaroro lies approximately 300 miles southeast of Earhart and Noonan's original destination of Howland Island. 

The researchers will be working on the island through June 17, 2010.

For more in-depth reading of this fascinating development in the interesting story of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan please read the Technology and Science article and visit the TIGHAR web site.  The TIGHAR site contains photographs of a couple of of the artifacts recovered on Nikumaroro.

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