“This is one of the most desolate places on earth.” That’s how Sun Lakes resident Karl Kern described Nikumaroro, the island Amelia Earhart possibly landed on during a presentation to a record crowd at a Sun Lakes Aero Club gathering January 16.
Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific on a flight to Howland Island in 1937. Kern and two others participated in a search for Earhart’s remains in 2010.
The last radio message from Earhart said they were flying on a line 157-337 degrees, Kern said. “That course, plotted through the neighborhood of Howland Island, also passes close to Nikumaroro.”
“The island is only three miles long by one mile wide,” Kern said. “It’s very easy for something to disappear there and never be seen again.”
Kern said the island was deserted when his group arrived there. It had not been inhabited for many years. “Around 1940, a group settled on the island and found the remains of an individual.”
“They also found part of a woman’s shoe, an empty sextant box and 13 bones, including a skull. All that stuff was sent to Fiji for analysis. At first, scientists determined it was a Polynesian, but it was later confirmed by a second scientist that it was a European woman.”
Kern said there are two other hypotheses about the flight’s disappearance: they crashed at sea, or they were captured by the Japanese military and died. But the Nikumaroro theory will continue to be investigated in the future, Kern said.
Now in its 21st year, SLAC sponsors programs the third Monday of each month, November through April, at the Sun Lakes Country Club. The programs are open to all Sun Lakes residents and others interested in aviation. More information on the club is available from Cannon Hill, 509-539-7857 or Gary Vacin, 298-7017, or at the club’s website, www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.