Friday July 2nd will mark the 73rd anniversary of Amelia Earhart's disappearance while on the last leg of her historic 'round the world flight.
And though she's been lost for more than three-quarters of a century, the search to solve the mystery of her fate continues. Less than a month ago, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), completed their tenth expedition to remote island of Nikumaroro where they have been seeking evidence to back up their theory that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan crash landed on the island and survived for a time as castaways.
One of their primary goals on this trip was to find objects that could be tested for the evidence of DNA that could be tested by a DNA laboratory that has a DNA sample from a direct female descendant of Earhart. No DNA source for Noonan has as yet been located.
And this year, the expedition met that goal, TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie told Discovery News.
"On this expedition we have recovered nearly 100 objects," Gillespie said. Among the items, 10 are being tested by a Canadian lab for DNA.
"We are talking about 'touch DNA,' genetic material that can be retrieved from objects that have been touched," he explained.
The best candidate for contact DNA appears to be a small glass jar that was found broken in five pieces, most likely a cosmetic jar.
Other candidates for DNA extraction include two buttons, parts of a pocket knife that was beaten apart to detach the blades for some reason, a cloth that appears to have been shaped as a bow, and cosmetic fragments of rouge from a woman's compact."
However, these buried treasures weren't the only evidence of Earhart's past presence on the island that the search party reported. In the daily journal posted on the TIGHAR website, expedition members described making personal even spiritual connections with Earhart and the island.
During the second week of the dig, a journal post mentioned that "everyone is reporting having very vivid, crazy, brightly-colored dreams. Is Nei Manganibuka (the spirit of the island) sending them messages?"
Or maybe it was Amelia herself decorating their dreams. Considering Earhart's psychic proclivities in life, who's to say they haven't persisted into the afterlife? Her influence seems particularly present in the journal's final entry describing the ineffable "Amelia Moments" experienced by expedition members.
Whether or not you're willing to give credence to the possibility of communication from beyond death doesn't much matter in this case. Certainly even the most unyielding skeptics will find their spirits moved by the dedication of the searchers and the humanity of Amelia Earhart. Let's hope that by the next anniversary of this fateful date, the mystery will be solved and Earhart will no longer be the most famous missing person, she'll be famously found!
"Dateline: Nikumaroro, 0530 Local Time, 11 June 2010Every person involved in the Earhart Project eventually has what we call an 'Amelia Moment' – a point at which it all becomes real, no longer just an interesting theory, but a human story of courage, suffering, death, and discovery. For some, it comes in an archive; for others, from a book. For many it comes on the island. Standing on the reef with the sun like a hammer, feeling what it might be like to watch your plane go over the edge. Sitting on the ground at the Seven Site, watching the crabs come closer, imagining not being able to move. Walking through the Buka forest, hearing an airplane go over, knowing – knowing – you could not possible make it to the beach in time to signal an observer …
We may be 72 years and 11 months too late, but we owe it to her to find the truth." Report from the Niku VI