We all know the story: On July 2, 1937, record-setting aviator Amelia Earhart was flying over the Pacific Ocean during her daring round-the-world-flight when she (most likely) ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean somewhere around the island of Nikumaroro. After the largest and most expensive air and sea search in American history came up empty-handed, Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939.
But what if she DIDN’T die? What if it was all ruse? What if she was actually a spy for the government, working for FDR?
That theory has been around forever, but a new book, Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave, out this week, builds on the existing theory that
Earhart was a spy and was shot down by the Japanese (or captured after a crash or forced landing) and taken prisoner while on a mission to photograph Japanese military installations in the Pacific. FDR knew about the whole thing,but kept it quiet. Released by the Japanese in 1945, he claims, Earhart returned to the US and lived under the name Irene Craigmile Bolam until she died in 1982, when she would have been about 86. (via Newser)
That sort of dovetails with another widely held belief that Earhart and Noonan touched down on the remote South Pacific island of Nikumaroro, which at the time of their disappearance was uninhabited and known as Gardner Island.
The Earhart Project, a division of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), is dedicated to investigating the Nikumaroro hypothesis. The group has been combing the island since 1989, assembling a collection of artifacts that includes improvised tools, shoe remnants and aircraft wreckage that is consistent with Earhart’s Electra. They have also discovered that, several years after Earhart vanished, a British colonial officer found the remains of a castaway on Nikumaroro. The bones were sent to Fiji for analysis and ultimately misplaced.
During TIGHAR’s 2010 expedition, the team uncovered some of their most compelling clues yet. While foraging in a spot where they had previously identified traces of a campfire, they came across three pieces of a pocketknife, shells that had been cut open, fragments of a glass cosmetic jar, bits of makeup and—perhaps most intriguing of all—bone fragments that may be from a human.
Meaning, she lived out her life as a castaway on a remote Pacific Island (which is what I like to think happened). What do YOU think happened to her?