LEXINGTON, KY. If Gary Quigg is right, the 70-year-old mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has been solved. All he needs is some proof.
"I am sure we are looking in the right spot," Quigg said this weekend at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky in Lexington.
"I think eventually we will find the smoking gun that it takes to conclusively say this is where the flight ended," he said during an interview before he addressed museum members at a dinner.
Quigg, 45, is an archaeological researcher from Indiana who was on Nikumaroro Island in the Pacific Ocean for a month this summer as part of a team from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR.
During a previous visit to Nikumaroro, another team found aluminum that might have come from Earhart's Lockheed Electra and parts of a shoe like those worn by Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, when they disappeared in July 1937.
The significance of both finds is disputed by other researchers and historians, but Quigg said there's other evidence that Nikumaroro, in the Phoenix Islands southwest of Hawaii, is where Earhart's plane went down.
"The historical evidence really points to this island," he said. "In fact, the Navy sent a battleship (the Colorado) there with two observation planes a week after her disappearance because there were radio transmissions on her frequency coming from the area of this island."
Navy fliers saw no signs of anyone on Nikumaroro.
There are other theories about the disappearance. Some say Earhart got lost, ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean or that she was shot down and captured by the Japanese. Quigg said there's no evidence to support those ideas.
"In fact, the Japanese actually helped in the search during the time of her disappearance," he said.
Quigg's group, a nonprofit foundation, has searched other islands - most recently Tinian, where some say Earhart was imprisoned by the Japanese. "We did not find evidence to support that," he said. "If there is other historical evidence that comes to light that supports another area of the Pacific, we will go there."
TIGHAR is now focusing on two places on Nikumaroro, which is three miles long and 1.5 miles wide.
No future trips to Nikumaroro are planned, Quigg said. The last trip cost $600,000, and that amount takes two to six years to raise, he said.