Amelia Earhart: Bones Discovered On Nikumaroro, Kiribati, Could Belong To Missing Pilot

Amelia Earhart’s bones were reportedly discovered on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati. The theory, which was announced by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, suggests the missing pilot did not perish in a plane crash as previously assumed. Instead, TIGHAR believes Earhart “spent days — maybe months” living as a castaway on the island.

A native of Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart saw her first airplane at the Kansas state fair when she was 10-years-old. Although she was not particularly impressed with the machine, she developed a fascination with planes and flying while attending a stunt-flying exhibition nine years later.

AmeliaEarhart.com reports the young woman went on her first flight with pilot Frank Hawks when she was 23-years-old. In a later interview, Amelia Earhart said the ride changed her life and convinced her to pursue her pilot’s license.

“By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.”

On January 3, 1921, Amelia took her first flying lesson. Six months later, she purchased her first plane — which was a bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane.

Between 1922 and 1936, Earhart broke numerous flying records. She was the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo, the first woman to fly nonstop across the United States coast-to-coast, and the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Amelia Earhart was also the first person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Oakland, California, between Los Angeles, California, and Mexico City, Mexico, and between Mexico City and Newark, New Jersey.

As she approached the age of 40, Amelia Earhart was determined to become the first woman to fly around the world.

During her first attempt, which was in March 1937, Amelia crashed her plane at the United States Navy’s Luke Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. However, after having the plane rebuilt, Earhart moved forward with her plan.

Although the flight plan was changed to take her in the opposite direction, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Frederick Joseph “Fred” Noonan, departed Miami, Florida, on June 1, 1937.

Over the next four weeks, Amelia completed more than 22,000 miles of her 29,000-mile journey. On July 2, she and Noonan departed Lae Airfield in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, and headed toward Howland Island. Unfortunately, they never reached their destination.

At 7:42 a.m., Earhart sent a foreboding radio transmission to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter ITASCA.

“We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.”

Her final transmission, which was sent at 8:45 a.m., was “We are running north and south.”

Authorities launched an extensive search, which cost nearly $4 million and covered more than 250,000 square miles. Two weeks later, the official search was halted and Amelia Earhart and Frederick Joseph “Fred” Noonan were assumed to have died in a plane crash.

In 1991, an International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery crew discovered several items on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati, including a fragment of aluminum, which they believed belonged to Amelia Earhart and her missing plane.

As reported by the Guardian, the source of the fragment is still a point of heated controversy. However, remains found on the same island are believed to be Amelia Earhart’s bones.

As reported by CNN, the remains were originally discovered in 1940. Although they were initially thought to belong to a male, further research suggests they likely to belonged to a female of Amelia Earhart’s ethnic origin and height.

TIGHAR Executive Director Ric Gillespie is convinced the remains are indeed Amelia Earhart’s bones. In a recent interview, the director said evidence of “bonfires being lit in the area,” along with the discovery of bird and fish bones near the bonfires, suggests “Earhart survived weeks, maybe even months, in [sic] that island.”

TIGHAR researchers admit it may be impossible to conclusively prove whether the remains found on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati, are Amelia Earhart’s bones. However, they are convinced that there is enough proof to conduct more research into their theory.

[Featured Image via Everett Historical/Shutterstock]