Clues continue to emerge in the mysterious disappearance of famed aviator Amelia Earhart. The pilot vanished during an around-the-world flight in 1937 with navigator Fred Noonan.
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery announced on Friday (June 1) that a series of radio signals that were initially disregarded were actually from Earhart’s plane. According to the organization’s website, the unanswered S.O.S. calls were “the smoking gun that was swept under the rug.”
The group, a non-profit dedicated to aviation archaeology and historic aircraft preservation, believes that Earhart and Noonan – who were low on fuel – landed on the uninhabited Gardner Island, which is now known as Nikumaroro Island. They believe the two then attempted to survive on the remote area of the Pacific by eating fish and drinking rain water. As for the plane, the group believes it was ultimately washed out to sea.
“Amelia Earhart did not simply vanish on July 2, 1937,” Richard Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, tells Discovery News. “Radio distress calls believed to have been sent from the missing plane dominated the headlines and drove much of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search.”
He adds that researchers efforts “suggest that the aircraft was on land and on its wheels for several days following the disappearance.”
Supporting this theory are items of broken glass and other remnants found by future inhabitants of the island. They also discovered a collection of fish and animal bones as well as possible human bone fragments.
“Analyses of the artifacts, faunals and data collected during the expedition are on-going but, at this point, everything supports the hypothesis that the remains found at the site in 1940 were those of Amelia Earhart,” according to TIGHAR.
The organization has an expedition scheduled for July to the area they believe Earhart and Noonan spent their remaining days.