Amelia Earhart Died On Deserted Island, Not During Plane Crash

Mark Shiffer

Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer, likely died as a castaway on a tiny remote Pacific island. New evidence suggests Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crash-landed on Nikumaroro Island, also known as Gardner Island. The site is between Australia and Hawaii. Amelia was intending to land at Howland Island, hundreds of miles away. The plane was last detected by radar on July 2, 1937.

For decades, experts, as well as conspiracy theorists, have speculated about the cause and results of the Amelia Earhart plane crash. One of the less likely theories suggests Earhart and Noonan crash-landed on a Japanese island where they were captured and executed, reports ITV News. The official report by the United States government concluded that the plane had fallen into the sea and both occupants were killed in the crash.

Another theory was that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan crashed on an island in the middle of the ocean. After 22 years of research, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes this is what actually happened.

TIGHAR suggests that Amelia's plane got lost attempting to find Howland Island, and wound up running low on fuel around Nikumaroro. As part of the evidence that Earhart and Noonan remained alive after crashing, radio distress calls traced to the island were still being sent from the disabled plane for several days.

Some of the more than 100 radio transmissions were reportedly heard as far away as Australia, Texas, and Florida. One of the calls by Earhart stresses that she is injured, but not as badly as her navigator, Noonan. The last of the distress calls mentioned rising waters and may have led to the plane, known as a Lockheed Electra, falling over a reef edge and into the ocean permanently.

It is thought that at least one of the crew members survived for some time after the crash. It's likely that both Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were injured to some degree. They would have survived off rainwater, fish, birds, turtles, and clams. Lack of water and injuries were likely their biggest challenges. It is believed that a makeshift campsite was also set up at the south-east tip of the tiny island. Some years later, what is believed to be the skeleton of a female was found in the area.

There is still no sign of Amelia Earhart's plane, although TIGHAR claims to have found aluminum paneling which fits the description of Amelia's 1930s Lockheed Electra plane structure. However, researchers are still hoping to search for more of the wreckage next year using submarines. Over the last few years, remains of shoes, improvised tools, and bone fragments have been found as well. If the wreckage of the plane can be found, it will add to the evidence that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan died on the island and not in the ocean.

According to International Business Times, a British group arrived on Nikumaroro in October 1937, just a few months after the Amelia Earhart crash. The party of 20 people wanted to see if it was possible to re-settle on the island, which had been abandoned since 1892. It's possible that the group passed right by the wounded Earhart and Noonan during their brief exploration of the island. But it's also likely that Amelia and Fred were already dead by that time, eventually succumbing to their injuries.

[Photo by Unknown/AP Images]