Research Plan for 2017
Weather permitting, we should have seven days on Nikumaroro.
In that time, we hope to accomplish the following research jobs, all of which will be overseen by Dr. Tom King:
Surface Search at the Seven Site
The Seven Site is where evidence suggests that Amelia Earhart may have died. At the location where historical, archaeological, and forensic canine data suggest that fragmented human bones may exist among the (very bone-like) coral rubble, we want to perform a very detailed visual search of the surface and collect any likely remains for DNA sequencing.
Experts required: Dawn Johnson, Dr. Tom Roberts
Test the "cairn" at the Northwest Cape
A possible stone cairn found on the last day of the 2015 visit just may mark a grave, in the area where we think Earhart and Noonan may have had their first camp after landing. We plan to test-excavate this feature under close archaeological control.
Experts required: Gary Quigg, Bob Draper
ROV Work on the Reef
Our experts from Open ROV plan to conduct controlled survey using remotely-operated vehicles (ROV) in areas where it is possible that wreckage from Earhart's Lockheed Electra may be preserved. Imagery will be transmitted in real time to the ship's salon, where all aboard can participate in guiding the search effort and viewing its results.
Experts required: Eric Stackpole, Walt Holm, John Clauss
Work in the Colonial Village
The village site occupied from 1939 to 1963 has produced airplane parts apparently collected by the occupants and brought home for use in various projects. It has also produced a variety of other data that are helpful in understanding the island's history and how Earhart and Noonan may have fit into it. We plan to conduct detailed survey of an area around the village dispensary, seeking data for comparison with medical or cosmetic items found at the Seven Site.
Experts required: Joe Cerniglia, Lonnie Schorer, Jaime Bach
We want to continue research begun in 2015 by Dr. Rachel King into the edible and dangerous plants of Nikumaroro, to gain better understanding of how Earhart and Noonan might have survived on the island.
Experts required: Dr. Rachel King, Jaime Bach
General SCUBA and Kayak Operations
Over the years, much of the island and reef have been surveyed for aircraft wreckage and other relevant artifacts, with results that range from negative to ambiguous. But the island is constantly changing, and things can appear this year that were invisible last year. The famous artifact 2-2-V-1, for instance, was not visible in 1989 but was in plain sight after a big storm in 1991. We plan to do as much general exploration as time permits, both underwater and by kayak, locating any suspicious items for further study and recovery if justified and feasible.
Kayak and SCUBA search will be overseen by Betchart's Bob Nansen.
Expert required: Andrew McKenna.
Survey at the Bivouac/Shoe Site
The site where Eric Bevington and Harry Maude, in 1937, saw what Bevington described as evidence of someone’s “overnight bivouac,” and where TIGHAR in 1991 found the remains of a woman’s shoe, merits further investigation, which we hope to undertake by boat and on foot with metal detectors, expanding on the areas studied in 1997.
Experts required: Lonnie Schorer, Gary Quigg
This is an ambitious research agenda for a one-week period, but we think we can accomplish a lot of it with a good team of experts and the help of our passengers. We don't promise a solution to the Earhart mystery, but we do expect to collect important information, and who knows? The solution lies out there somewhere.
Take a closer look......learn more about this incredible search & our upcoming adventure!
Views of Nikumaroro
A brief video vignette
Intriguing views of this remote, uninhabited Pacific atoll
Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
Check out the aerial view of this intriguing island!
A brief history and a helicopter aerial tour of the South Pacific island where Amelia Earhart is believed to have died as a castaway.
NIKU 2015 Overview
Come along for the ride & see what we experienced in 2015!
Join us as we explore the Colonial Village site, kayak on the lagoon to the Seven Site, sail around the island with scores of spinner dolphins, and see nesting boobies! We are in the largest marine reserve in the mid-Pacific, with amazing snorkeling and diving.
The Seven Site, in 2001, an interview with Dr. Tom King
Where Amelia Earhart may have died
2001 TIGHAR Video by Mark Smith.
The Search for Amelia (Part One)
Recorded April 2011
Thomas F. King, Ph.D, archaeologist and author of "Thirteen Bones", joins co-hosts Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon to discuss his involvement in TIGHAR's "Search For Amelia Earhart". (Part 1 of 3)
The Search for Amelia (Part Two)
Recorded April 2011
Thomas F. King, Ph.D, archaeologist and author of "Thirteen Bones", joins co-hosts Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon to discuss his involvement in TIGHAR's "Search For Amelia Earhart". (Part 2 of 3)
The Search for Amelia (Part Three)
Recorded April 2011
Thomas F. King, Ph.D, archaeologist and author of "Thirteen Bones", joins co-hosts Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon to discuss his involvement in TIGHAR's "Search For Amelia Earhart". (Part 3 of 3)
A piece of Amelia Earhart's Electra?
TIGHAR's discovery and analysis of Artifact 2-2-V-1: possibly a piece of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra.
Discovery's Rosella Lorenzi interviews Ric Gillespie
June 2010 Expedition
In this audio slide show, Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, tells Discovery News what he found on his June expedition to Nikumaroro.
Phoenix Islands Protected Area Reefs
An intriguing view of PIPA's pristine reefs
The Phoenix Islands reefs are what a reef might have looked like a thousand years ago. These islands and surrounding waters cover 408,250 km2 (157,626 sq. miles) and represent one of Earth's last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems.
You can adopt an Expert for just $8,995 plus air fare of $1,695 from Los Angeles
You can contribute the amount of your choice toward the adoption of one or more Experts
We're pleased to introduce the following Experts, who are up for Adoption:
Dr. Tom King
Tom is TIGHAR’s Senior Archaeologist and a member of TIGHAR’s Board of Directors. He has taken part in multiple research visits to Nikumaroro, beginning with TIGHAR’s very first expedition in 1989, and also done Earhart-related research in Fiji, on Kanton Island, in Idaho and elsewhere. Most recently he has supervised archaeological work at the Seven Site and coordinated TIGHAR research on the 2015 Betchart Expeditions visit to the island. He is a co-author of Amelia Earhart’s Shoes, author of the novel Thirteen Bones, and composer of many of the project’s TIGHAR-tunes; he is currently finishing a prequel to Thirteen Bones imagining Earhart’s last days on the island. He’s also the author of eight textbooks and many journal articles about archaeology and historic preservation, and holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. As a self-employed “cultural heritage” consultant (a hand-to-mouth business) Tom hopes to cover part of the cost of getting him to the island in 2017, but doubts if he can cover it all, so is putting himself up for adoption. His job will be to supervise and coordinate all archaeological work, drawing on his decades of experience and training and his long familiarity with the island and the research.
Dawn Johnson is working on her Master's Degree in archaeology based on work she has done searching for WWII MIA's in Europe. Dawn spent a year driving overland from Switzerland to South Africa, visiting ancient sites along the route; upon returning she has worked extensively on archaeological projects in California, locating, evaluating, and excavating prehistoric and historic sites. Her introduction to aviation archaeology was in 2008, when she traveled to Belgium and successfully located and recovered her uncle's remains in his downed W.W.II P-47. She also works in association with the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF), who search for human remains in historic and prehistoric burials. A member of TIGHAR since 2010, and current member of the board of directors, this will be her second trip to Nikumaroro. In 2015 she was responsible for collecting samples for examination by ICF dogs, whose noses pointed to a particular part of the "Seven Site" near Nikumaroro's southeast end as likely to contain human remains. This location coincides with one where a possible human finger bone was found in 2010, and is likely the spot where thirteen human bones, now lost, were found in 1940. In 2017 Dawn is scheduled to oversee detailed search of the location & carry out other archaeological work.
John Clauss has been a TIGHAR member since 1987 and was a team member on the first Amelia Earhart search expedition to Nikumaroro in 1989. Since then, he has been to the remote central Pacific island ten times, as well as having done survey work on nearby McKean and Kanton Islands. He has also participated in many field projects at Lake Tahoe which expand the knowledge base of underwater equipment to assist in the search for evidence of Amelia Earhart. On recent TIGHAR expeditions he participated in deep water and lagoon search operations using ROV’s and other technologies. John has covered the entire island on foot and by boat, providing himself and his colleagues with a wealth of information. John is also a valuable team member for his skills of making equipment work in the field. He is an invaluable practical asset in the ongoing search for Amelia Earhart. In 2017 he will work with Walt Holm and experts from Open ROV to conduct systematic underwater survey of areas where aircraft wreckage might survive, as well as providing the whole team with his practical knowledge of the island.
Joe Cerniglia has been a TIGHAR researcher and member since 2010. He is also a member of TIGHAR's Earhart Project Advisory Council (EPAC), a diverse team that provides raw research on the Earhart Project, steering avenues of research, artifact and information analysis.
Joe was aboard the inaugural 2015 Betchart expedition to Nikumaroro as a lecture presenter. A special focus of his research with regard to the Earhart search has been the analysis of land-based artifacts from the island. He has authored several Earhart Project research papers and bulletins for TIGHAR.
He is currently working on a paper about a small amber medicinal vial found on the Betchart expedition.
Joe says, "There is a need to do field work in the colonial village, specifically at the dispensary site, to compare what the colonists were using as medicines with an array of artifacts that appear to be American name-brand medicinal products, or American products locally compounded in a drug store. Were the colonists using these types of products?"
Ms. Jaime Lynn Bach is a cultural anthropologist, specializing in the Central Pacific country of Kiribati. After serving two years in the US Peace Corps as a Teacher Trainer in the Republic of Kiribati, she completed her Master's thesis on the history and heritage of the people of Kiribati. She is currently working on her dissertation research at the University of Montana, looking at local perceptions and reactions to environmental change on the islands of Kiribati.
Jaime participated in the 2015 Betchart Expeditions visit to Nikumaroro and, as a passenger herself, provided insights into the cultural context of the island's 1939-63 settlement, within which the archaeological remains that may reflect the presence of Earhart and Noonan must be interpreted. On the 2017 visit, Jaime plans to refine our understanding of the colonial village in which aircraft parts and other artifacts are sometimes find, and to seek a better understanding of how the Seven Site -- where bones that may have been Earhart's -- were found in 1940..
Dr. Tom Roberts
Thomas A. (Tom) Roberts has been a TIGHAR member for 20 years. He became interested in the organization after hearing about their investigation into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. He has been fortunate to participate in three research visits to Nikumaroro, beginning in 2007 and most recently with the 2015 Betchart Expeditions visit to the island. In 2006 he was a member of the TIGHAR group that traveled to Newfoundland to search for traces of l’Oiseau Blanc (The White Bird) that disappeared in 1927 during at attempt to cross the Atlantic from Paris to New York. He was also a member of the 2007 TIGHAR expedition to Wales to examine the P-38 discovered along the coast and dubbed the Maid of Harlech. He received a PhD in structural mechanics from the University of California, Los Angeles and worked in the Southern California aerospace industry during his professional career. He retired from the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in 2004 and lives with his wife Maria in Park City, Utah. Tom is putting himself up for adoption for the 2017 Betchart Expedition to Nikumaroro.
Dr. Rachel King
Rachel King received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami at Coral Gables after fieldwork in Peru & Costa Rica. For six years, she was a research associate at the SW Environmental Research Center at Florida International University working on Everglades projects. She teaches at Miami-Dade College and at the Coral Reef Montessori Academy in Miami, Florida. On the 2015 Betchart Expeditions trip she did a botanical survey on Nikumaroro Island, with a special look at edible plant species and also poisonous ones to determine what would have been available for Amelia Earhart to eat. She also participated in surveys in the Colonial Village. Her plans for 2017 include focusing the botanical study on the vicinity of the Seven Site, where much of the vegetation is little changed from 1937.
Bob Draper participated in Betchart's Amelia Earhart 2015 expedition to Nikumaroro and led a team which located an important field site for research on the 2017 expedition -- a possible rock cairn on the northwest cape, near "Camp Zero" where team member Art Carty believes Amelia and Fred Noonan may have camped. Bob is a certified diver and is well experienced with metal detectors, which are used in the search for airplane aluminum in the Colonial Village site (as well as in the High Sierra where he explores old mining camps and looks for bits of gold). In 2017 Bob plans to guide team members to the cairn site and participate in its archaeological testing, as well as to help carry out underwater surveys on the reef.
Eric is a co-founder of OpenROV, an organization that has created a series of low cost, underwater remotely operated vehicles which have been operated throughout the world. Eric's expertise is in robotics and mechatronics systems and he has worked as an ROV pilot and technician in various capacities throughout the last decade. His experience includes numerous domestic deployments with professional researchers as well as serving as pilot and mechanical engineer for a sub-ice ROV during a three month-long expedition in Antarctica. Before starting OpenROV, Eric also worked on spacecraft mechanisms at NASA Ames Research center. He holds a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering and is an active hobbyist and tinkerer. Eric plans to focus on maintaining and operating the fleet OpenROVs that will be part of the 2017 expedition.
Walt Holm is a consulting electrical engineer, and over the past 25 years has designed instrumentation for the aerospace, marine, and biomedical fields, as well as working on consumer electronics. Since 2013 he has been the chief electrical engineer for OpenROV, working on new low-cost ways of building remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and exploring underwater.
Walt has been to Nikumaroro 5 previous times, working variously on dive teams, land search teams, and ROV teams. He has also done extensive aviation-related archaeological survey work throughout the continental US, in Alaska, Micronesia, Newfoundland, and Wales. In August of 2015 Walt led a team of archaeologists and ROV operators into the Kings Canyon wilderness to survey the remains of a World War 2 B-24 bomber wreck that is at the bottom of a high-mountain lake.
Walt will be working with John Clauss & Eric Stackpole, using ROVs to survey areas of the Nikumaroro reef that are below safe scuba diving depths.
A professional architect with single engine and floatplane licenses, Lonnie became interested in Amelia Earhart’s life and impact on society. After taking TIGHAR’s Aviation Archaeology course and helping excavate a P-47 Thunderbolt, she joined the Earhart team for the 1997, 2007, 2010, and 2015 trips. Using survey equipment, kite aerial photography, and drones, Lonnie has documented site topography and the distribution of artifacts on the island. She has worked in the village, at the Seven Site, and on the north shore, and stayed on the island for several days and nights to work and observe conditions during a tropical cyclone. In 2012, she traveled to Fiji to search the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, medical school, national museum, and underground bunkers for the bones sent to Suva in 1940 from Nikumaroro. Lonnie gives Earhart talks at professional organizations, senior centers, and schools. She is a member of the Explorers Club Conservation Committee, has completed a Maritime Archaeological Historical Society course, and works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage program. Her primary jobs on the 2017 trip will be to help oversee and document research in the colonial village and at the bivouac site, though her skills may be called upon elsewhere as well.
Andrew McKenna is a long term TIGHAR member, Earhart Project participant, and veteran of four TIGHAR expeditions to Nikumaroro (NIKU IIII,V, VI and VIII). Andrew has extensive experience with SCUBA depth dive operations at Nikumaroro surveying the island’s northwest reef and parts of the lagoon during Niku IIII and NIku VIII. Andrew also has extensive experience operating with the shore team particularly at the 7 Site. Andrew has participated in several additional TIGHAR related activities such as the expedition to locate the Lockheed 10 crash site in Idaho, and the P-38 Maid of Harlech survey, as well as the Loon Lake B-23 field school. Andrew is active with the Colorado based AvAir aviation archaeology group investigating historical sites in his home state. In his spare time, Andrew owns and operates Bella Energy, a renewable energy project development and implementation business. Andrew’s long term experience and resourcefulness operating in the difficult environment of Nikumaroro, his knowledge and experience diving there, and his experience in archaeology at the Seven Site and elsewhere on the island make him a valuable resource worthy of adoption for the 2017 expedition to Nikumaroro.
Frank Thomas is an anthropologist/archaeologist who began his field training in the Caribbean. He joined Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, in 2006. For over twenty years, he has worked as a researcher, contractor, instructor, and consultant on archaeological projects and in cultural heritage management throughout the Pacific Islands region. His main interests are environmental archaeology, tangible cultural heritage management, and human ecology on Pacific atolls. He also has research and teaching interests in traditional ecological knowledge, rural development, and comparative island studies (Caribbean/Pacific). He currently works on archaeological projects in Fiji and Kiribati (Micronesia).He visited Nikumaroro the first time in 2015 with TIGHAR members and gave several presentations to passengers on various topics related to Pacific Islands environments and cultures, both past and present. He was accompanied by his wife, Aana, who hails from the southern atoll of Tabiteuea in the Gilberts Group of Kiribati.
Your participation in one or more of these options is greatly appreciated!
Help us Solve the Mystery!
You can adopt an expert for just $8,995 plus air fare of $1,695 from Los Angeles, or you may share in the adoption of an expert by contributing an amount of your choice. Every little bit helps! Expert adoptions can be made through ALI or TIGHAR (see below). For more info or to set up your partially or fully-funded adoption, please contact Tom King at email@example.com
Make Tax-Deductible Donations through
Archaeological Legacy Institute (ALI)
ALI is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt (501[c]), research and education corporation registered in Oregon in 1999. ALI’s missions include making archaeology more effective both in gathering important information about past human life and in delivering that information to the public. ALI sponsors The Archaeology Channel, and is supporting the 2017 Nikumaroro research.
Please CLICK HERE to make your tax-deductible donation through ALI.
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery
TIGHAR (pronounced “tiger”) is a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. TIGHAR has carried out extensive research into the Earhart/Noonan disappearance, and has developed considerable evidence supporting the “Nikumaroro Hypothesis.”
Please CLICK HERE to make your tax-deductible donation via TIGHAR.
Contribute Airline Miles
An excellent way to put your frequent flier miles to great use!
If you'd like to assist with an adoption, but aren't in a position to cover the cost of the voyage, you can help out by using your frequent flier miles to cover the roundtrip airfare for one or more of our adoptees. Please contact Tom King at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Sponsor a Presentation by Dr. Tom King
Presentation + Q&A on Amelia's Earhart's Disappearance
Are you aware of - or a member of - a group of individuals that may have an interest in participating in this voyage &/or contributing to our quest to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance? If so, a presentation and Q&A session conducted by Dr. King may be an ideal way to convey the detailed information they're looking for in order to finalize their decisions!
Please feel free to contact Dr. King (email@example.com) to discuss availability & transportation/lodging arrangements. CLICK HERE for an overview of his presentation.
We invite you to visit the links below to obtain more information.
Kiribati, an island republic in the Central Pacific, comprises 33 coral atolls stretching along the equator. With lagoons and white-sand beaches, many of its islands are uninhabited, offering a remote setting for fishing, diving and bird-watching.
The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Kiribati, just five degrees south of the equator. PIPA is the world’s first large, truly deep water MPA.
ALI is a nonprofit, tax-exempt research and education corporation that's missions include making archaeology more effective both in gathering important information about past human life and in delivering that information to the public.
A discussion of TIGHAR's work testing the Nikumaroro Hypothesis on the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, hosted by senior archaeologist Tom King, PhD.
Betchart Expeditions Inc. specializes in natural history expeditions worldwide for friends of Betchart and members of museums, zoos, conservation organizations, and scientific professional organizations.