On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart, pilot, author, and feminist icon, made her famous trek around the world... at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, she mysteriously disappeared, and we've never figured out what happened to her. Her legend has lived on in conspiracy theories and urban legends ever since, but the latest investigation into her disappearance might have given us the only answers we'll ever get.
Specialized canines have been sniffing around the Pacific islands for traces of Earhart's remains. Four dogs were flown to Nikumaroro Island, Kiribati to see what they could find. Even though the island is very isolated and the pilot disappeared over 80 years ago, there was still evidence to be found.
This wasn't the first time a there was an expedition to find Earhart. TIGHAR researchers (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) confirmed that her disappearance must have been in a place called Seven Site. In 1940, a British explorer flew to this site where he found multiple human bodies and bones under a single ren tree.
In 2001, there was another expedition and they were miraculously able to find the ren tree site. What they found was horrifying.
There were definite signs of American castaways. Amongst the handmade campfires and bones were U.S artifacts... jackknifes, glass jars, and a compact mirror, clearly belonging to a woman.
The National Geographic Society and TIGHAR teamed up and hired four border collies to dig up Earhart's remains. The dogs (Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley) were flown to the island on June 30, 2017. What they found may finally bring peace to the Earhart mystery once and for all.
It is thought that Earhart disappeared (along with her navigator Fred Noonan) on the island of Nikumaroro because the two were originally headed to Howland Island. Nikumaroro is only 350 nautical miles northeast of Howland. Her location was even confirmed by her last radio transmission back to the U.S
Some historians say that the two must have landed in the Marshall Islands or Saipan and were captured by the Japanese. A photograph was even taken supporting this theory just a few years after their disappearance. The picture shows the Marshall Islands, a woman with her back is to the camera, and a blurred man's face that could be Noonan's.
The researchers and dogs weren't interested in speculation, they wanted conclusive proof. Almost as soon as they reached the ren tree, one of the dogs alerted their owner. Almost immediately, another dog alerted to the same spot. Just to be sure, two more dogs were brought to the same spot the next day... both alerted to the same spot.
Someone had died under the ren tree. Although they didn't know who, it was a good guess that it could be Earhart and Noonan. TIGHAR thought that maybe when Earhart couldn't find Howland, they decided to fly over Nikumaroro and eventually land. Could Earhart and Noonan have been stranded on this island, possibly for years?
On the second to last day before leaving the island, no bones had been found. The archeologists decided to try a plan B and send soil samples back to the U.S. to extract DNA. They admitted it was a long shot, but they would always regret it if they didn't pursue this lead.
We are still waiting for conclusive results, but this expedition inspired many other historians and archeologists to try and find out what happened on that fateful flight around the world. Not only is Earhart a mystery, she is also an incredible female who put America on the map for aviation experimentation.