60 ear mystery
THE SEARCH FOR AMELIA EARHART Archaeologist joins in 60-year mystery (EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of three articles concerning the mysterious disappearance disappearance of famed American aviatrix aviatrix Amelia Earhart in July 1937, and the Niku III expedition mounted mounted by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery to find the answer to the 60-year-old riddle. riddle. Redwood Valley archaeologist archaeologist Jeffrey Hamilton is aiding the expedition in the search.) By DAN McKEE The Daily Journal N ikumaroro Island lies sweltering in the Central Central Pacific sun. No one lives here. People tried once, but gave up and left. Now the coral atoll, the exposed rim of an ancient volcano^ is home to mice and sand crabs. Fish swim in the warm lagoon waters, but they offer no hope of sustenance. Except for a few weeks of the year, they are poisonous poisonous if eaten. Nikumaroro's only water comes from the rains that accompany the brutal winter gales that send waves washing over portions of the island. Nikumaroro is not a paradise; paradise; it is a hell. Yet recently, a marine research vessel sailed from Suva Bay in Fiji for the Central Pacific Republic of Kiribati. And on Feb. 20, a 20-person scientific party left Sail Diego to catch up with,the ship. Their -,ultimate -,ultimate destination: Niku- maroro, in Kiribati's Phoenix Group of islands. There is no wealth on Nikumaroro: Nikumaroro: not the tons of bat guano C.A. Hamilton & Co. of New London, Conn., hoped to find when it claimed the island in 1856; not the mineral wealth a party of Geomarex Corp. geologists hoped to discover during a 1978 survey. Even the United States Air Force found tiny Nikumaroro unsuitable for a biological weapons testing site in 1975. What Nikumaroro may hold, — and what eight years and more than $1 million in research has yet to provide —; is the key to a 60-year-old mystery: mystery: what happened to world/ world/ famous American aviatrix ; Amelia Earhart. : '', Earhart and navigator Fred - Noonan disappeared on July 2, 1937, during Earhart's second'- world flight attempt. Their bod-' ies, and the wreckage of 'Earhart's Lockheed 10E Electra, Electra, have never been found, 4 Jane FreemanfTho Dally Journal Redwood Valley archaeologist Jeffrey Hamilton at his home running TIGHAR's Amelia Earhart program on his computer. Hamilton will remain In touch with the Niku III expedition on Nikumaroro using both satellite telephone and cyberspace. Over the decades, Earhart's disappearance has become one of the 20th century's greatest riddles. Many answers have been proposed, from the patriotically sublime to the patently ridiculous: ridiculous: Earhart's plane ran out of gas, crashed, and sank into the oblivion of the deep Pacific; Earhart and Noonan were spies for the United States government government sent to photograph newly constructed Japanese military complexes in the Marshall See MYSTERY, Page A-6 A woman at home in the skies By DAN McKEE The Daily Journal A melia Earhart disappeared in the Central Pacific oh July 2, 1937. She died doing what she loved most — flying — attempting attempting to circumnavigate the globe. It was to be her last record-setting flight, the triumphant conclusion to a nine-year career that had thrust her from obscurity into worldwide notoriety. notoriety. Before taking off, the 39-year-old flier told reporters she felt she had only "one good flight left in her, and this is it." Born in Atchison, Kan., in 1898, Earhart became interested in aviation aviation While Serving as a nurse in a • The Earhart collection of Jeffrey Hamilton Canadian hospital during World War Amelia Earhart circa 1923. The young woman was just making her mark in aviation, becoming See EARHART, Page A-12 one of a small handful of woman fliers.