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Archaeological Legacy Institute, a nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, is launching a a month-long Indiegogo crowdfunding effort to send a film crew next year to the Pacific island of Nikumaroro to document the latest episode in the continuing search for Amelia Earhart.

Nonprofit Archaeological Legacy Institute (ALI), headquartered in Eugene, plans to send a film crew next year to the Pacific island of Nikumaroro to document the latest episode in the continuing search for Amelia Earhart. The plan includes a month-long Indiegogo crowdfunding effort, to launch September 19, to cover the costs of the film shoot and begin the effort to produce a documentary film about the expedition and the search for Earhart, who disappeared on July 2, 1937, as she neared her goal to become the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world.

At this point, nobody can be sure what happened to her. This is perhaps the greatest mystery of the 20th Century. But the answer may come in 2017 on the 80th anniversary of Amelia’s disappearance.

The International Group for Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has worked on the case for 28 years and believes that Earhart landed on the Island of Nikumaroro, where she was stranded and eventually died. TIGHAR and its archaeologist, Dr. Tom King, have good and solid, but as yet not absolutely conclusive, evidence for this hypothesis. TIGHAR’s 12th visit to the island, led by King, will take place from June 21 to July 11, 2017, at the same time as a deep-water search for Earhart’s airplane by TIGHAR using two manned submersibles.

This is the biggest and most extensive expedition to Nikumaroro so far and may be the time when, finally, the Amelia Earhart mystery is solved. Our nonprofit film team plans to embark on this journey with the research team in hopes of participating and being present when this iconic mystery is solved. We will sail with Betchart Expeditions and the project participants to one of the most remote places on Earth, as we search the island, its lagoon and the surrounding waters for hard evidence that Amelia was there. We will come back with the footage and make an hour-long documentary film to tell the story of the expedition and the mystery that inspired it.

We will travel by air from Los Angeles, California, to Rotuma Island, Fiji. Here is where we will board our ship and begin our journey to Nikumaroro (formerly Gardner Island, located northeast of Fiji) where TIGHAR believes Amelia Earhart’s plane landed. The voyage on the Betchart Expeditions ship MV Reef Endeavour will cover nearly 3000 miles and include visits to the islands of Rotuma and Futuna, which are cultural and natural jewels of the Pacific. More details about the voyage.

During the 7-day stay on Nikumaroro, the research team, headed by Tom King, will focus on specific locations thought to be the most likely to yield conclusive evidence that Amelia was there. Here are key parts of the research plan:

1. The archaeologists will excavate the ground beneath a curious pile of rocks that might mark the grave dug in 1937 by Amelia Earhart for her navigator, Fred Noonan.
2. The research team will carefully comb the place (the “Seven Site”) where human bones (possibly Amelia Earhart’s!) were found in 1940. They will work at night with ultraviolet light that will cause any fragments of bone or teeth to fluoresce. That site also has produced cosmetic bottles, a small ointment pot, a zipper, and the mirror from a compact, all consistent with a female American visitor in the 1930s.
3. The team will examine the “Bivouac” or “Shoe” site, where evidence of an overnight camp was found in 1937 and where a TIGHAR expedition in 1991 found the remains of shoes and a sextant box.
4. The village site occupied from 1939 to 1963 has produced airplane parts apparently collected by the occupants and brought home for use in various projects. It has also produced a variety of other data that are helpful in understanding the island’s history and how Earhart and Noonan may have fit into it. The team will conduct detailed survey of an area around the village dispensary, seeking data for comparison with medical or cosmetic items found at the Seven Site.
5. Over the years, much of the island and reef have been surveyed for aircraft wreckage and other relevant artifacts, with varying results. But the island is constantly changing and things can appear this year that were invisible last year. The famous artifact 2-2-V-1, possibly a part of Amelia’s plane, for instance, was not visible in 1989 but was in plain sight after a big storm in 1991. The team will do as much general exploration as time permits, both underwater and by kayak, locating any suspicious items for further study and recovery if justified and feasible.

“Our participation in this new phase of the Amelia Earhart research will be a milestone for our nonprofit and a big step toward our goal to become an influential media organization,” says ALI head and Producer, Rick Pettigrew. “Since 2010, working with our film Director, Teal Greyhavens, who graduated from South Eugene High School and now lives and works in LA, we have teamed to produce a series of films on cultural heritage topics in places around the world, including Thailand, Malta, Guam, and Kansas. The Nikumaroro voyage is another big step for us, involving a highly popular topic, a visually stunning locale and the chance to capture a moment of discovery that will grab the world’s attention. I can’t emphasize how exciting this prospect is for us.”

Once we shoot the footage on the voyage, we still will need to raise the funds needed for the post-production work. Fundraising is always a serious challenge, but our footage and the story it can tell will be a compelling inducement for another Indiegogo campaign to finish the film. At this point, we anticipate that the final cut of the film will be ready some time in 2018 or 2019.

About Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was a pioneer.

She was the first woman to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic Ocean (1928), just one year after Charles Lindbergh. In 1932, she became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. For this feat, she received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from France and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from the U.S. President, Herbert Hoover. In 1935, she became the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. She set seven distance and speed aviation records between 1930 and 1935. Numerous tributes and honors have been bestowed on her name. She was a charter member of the Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots, a conscious inspiration to other women who wanted to become pilots and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. She is one of the most honored women in U.S. and world history.

Amelia was close to being the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world when she disappeared. The search for her, which has continued from 1937 to the present day, honors her memory and represents the fierce curiosity that is part of the human spirit. Solving the mystery will bring closure for those who desperately want to know what happened to her and again remind the world about her amazing character and determination.

More details about the TIGHAR hypothesis concerning the fate of Earhart.

About ALI

Archaeological Legacy Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, and organized to share the human cultural heritage widely through the use of cutting-edge technology. ALI’s principal project is The Archaeology Channel, a streaming-media website featuring video and audio programs on archaeology and indigenous peoples and reaching an audience of 250,000 visitors monthly. ALI activities also include TAC Festival and TAC Conference, podcast and cable TV production, and film production and distribution.

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