|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (June 2013)|
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is a nonprofit organization located in Pennsylvania. Founded by Richard Gillespie in 1985, TIGHAR describes themselves as "a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation." TIGHAR has long been involved with the search for Amelia Earhart, and advocates the theory that Earhart successfully landed on Gardner Island, now known as Nikumaroro.
Search for Amelia Earhart
Since 1988, TIGHAR has been testing the hypothesis that the missing 1937 flight of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed at Gardner Island. Archival research and multiple expeditions to the island have led TIGHAR to believe that the plane landed at the periphery of the atoll leaving Earhart and Noonan as castaways. TIGHAR notes that they still need conclusive evidence such as a piece of Earhart's Electra with a serial number or DNA evidence. In 2010 TIGHAR recovered bone fragments from Nikumaroro which they considered to be possibly human. Subsequent analysis of the fragments proved inconclusive. In 2012, analysis of a photograph taken in 1937 prompted TIGHAR to conduct an underwater search for Earhart’s plane. Though the search failed to yield any immediate results, TIGHAR later discovered a possible debris field through the examination of video taken during the expedition. In 2013 TIGHAR announced the discovery of a sonar anomaly at a depth of over 600 feet. After subsequent analysis revealed flaws in their sonar data TIGHAR indicated that the anomaly could be the dimensions of Earhart’s plane. In June 2013 Timothy Mellon sued TIGHAR alleging that they solicited a donation from him under false pretenses.
In addition to their Earhart related activities TIGHAR has been involved in a number of other archeological projects over the years. Since 2000 TIGHAR has occasionally offered aviation archaeology training through their field schools. In 1991 TIGHAR produced “The TIGHAR Guide to Aviation Historic Preservation Terminology” in an effort to standardize terminology within aviation archaeology.
The group was granted a licence to recover a Lockheed P-38 Lightning known as the Maid of Harlech buried on a beach in Wales, however the recovery has yet to occur and as of June 2014 the group were asking for donations to finance the operation. The Royal Air Force Museum had previously investigated the wreck and found the recovery to be beyond their economic capacity.
- "About TIGHAR". Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Lori Van Pelt (June 2006). Amelia Earhart: The Sky's No Limit. Tom Doherty Associates. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7653-1062-0. Retrieved 2013-06-08. "Executive Director Ric Gillespie has visited the island of Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Island group seven times since 1989."
- Kim Geiger (20 March 2012). "Hillary Clinton blesses renewed search for Earhart plane". Retrieved 2013-06-10. "Clinton recalled admiring Earhart as a woman who, 'when it was really hard, decided she was going to break all kinds of limits – social limits, gravity limits, distance limits.' "
- U.S. Department of State (20 March 2012). "Remarks. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. At an Event Celebrating Amelia Earhart and the United States’ Ties to Our Pacific Neighbors". Retrieved 2013-06-10. "I also want to acknowledge Ric Gillespie of the International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery;"