2. A photograph taken in 1937 may have included a part of Amelia’s airplane
In October, 1937, three months after Amelia’s disappearance, a surveying party visited Gardner Island for the purpose of exploring settlement sites for possible colonization. They encountered the rusting wreck of a British ship, SS Norwich City, which went aground on the island during a storm in 1929. Survivors of the wreck camped on the island for several days before being recovered. The remains of a campsite were still visible, as were other items, later recovered and for some linked to Earhart and Noonan. A British officer with the party, Eric Bevington, snapped a photograph of the reef and the wrecked ship as they departed the island in 1937. They had found no evidence of Earhart, at least they didn’t think they had. Nor had they been looking for any.
When Earhart vanished, she had been attempting to reach Howland Island, where a US Coast Guard cutter, Itasca, had been pre-positioned to guide her in. Gardner Island lays some 350 miles to the Southeast of Howland. Although the US Navy overflew Gardner within days of the disappearance, and reported nothing of significance regarding the lost aviators, speculation for years grew that she had missed Howland and completed a forced landing on Gardner Island. Neither the Navy nor the party in which Bevington participated found anything to support the theory. But decades later, examination of the photograph taken by Bevington revealed another object in the water offshore. Modern photographic enhancement led to speculation the object, which has long since vanished, may have been part of an aircraft’s undercarriage. To the convinced, the 1937 photograph included a landing wheel from Amelia’s airplane.