July 2, 2017, marks the 80th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan. Since their disappearance, no one has been able to find them, despite numerous attempts.
This week, National Geographic Society’s Archaeologist-in-Residence, Fred Hiebert, along with the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), will embark on a mission to solve the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart. The team sets sail from Fiji June 24.
They’ll be using a team of human remains detection dogs from the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF) to test what they call the Nikumaroro hypothesis — that Earhart and Noonan landed on the uninhabited Nikumaroro Island when they were aiming for tiny Howland Island just north of the equator.
The team has devoted the last three decades to testing this theory that was developed after 13 bones were discovered on Nikumaroro Island in 1940.
The remains were then shipped to Fiji, measured, and subsequently lost. The goal of the expedition is to locate the estimated 193 bones that remain unaccounted for on the island, according to the explorers.
The team of four dogs from ICF have nosed out burial sites as deep as nine feet and as old as 1,500 years.
“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” says Hiebert, who is sponsoring the canines. “They have a higher rate of success identifying things than ground-penetrating radar.”