An Interview with Ric Gillespie and Tom King

Two key investigators planning a 2007 expedition to Nikumaroro bring us up to date on the latest research and findings in the search for Amelia Earhart.

The Interview:

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart, during her highly publicized attempt to fly around the world, is one of the most compelling mysteries of the twentieth century. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is hot on the trail of clues that may lead to an answer to the question of what happened to Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on that fateful day, July 2, 1937. Two of the chief TIGHAR reseachers are Ric Gillespie, co-founder and Executive Director of the organization, and Dr. Tom King, TIGHAR Senior Archaeologist. In late March 2007, TIGHAR announced the discovery of a previously unknown diary of an Associated Press reporter who on the scene of the disappearance. This news rekindled widespread media interest in the Earhart mystery.

It may surprise some that archaeology has an important role to play in the resolution of the Earhart mystery. TIGHAR's hypothesis that Earhart and Noonan landed and were marooned and died on the tiny Pacific island of Nikumaroro elevates archaeology to a chief research tool in the research. TIGHAR plans its fifth expedition to Nikumaroro during July 2007.

Dr. Richard Pettigrew of The Archaeology Channel interviewed Gillespie and King over the telephone on March 28, 2007. In this interview, the two researchers review the Earhart disappearance and take us through the evidence to the goals of the upcoming expedition.


About Ric Gillespie:

The son of a decorated World War Two pilot, Richard E. Gillespie grew up around airplanes and learned to fly while he was still in high school. In 1985, with his wife Pat Thrasher, he founded The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. Known by its acronym TIGHAR (pronounced "tiger"), the nonprofit foundation has an international membership of several hundred scholars, scientists and enthusiasts whose volunteer expertise and financial contributions support the organization's mission to promote responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. As TIGHAR's Executive Director, Ric Gillespie has conducted dozens of educational seminars at air museums around the U.S. and has organized and moderated conferences of air museum professionals in Britain and Europe. Gillespie has also led over three dozen aviation archaeological expeditions to remote areas of the U.S., Canada, Europe, Micronesia, and New Guinea. Since launching TIGHAR's investigation of the Earhart disappearance in 1988, he has led eight expeditions to the Phoenix Islands. Ric Gilllespie's writings on the Earhart disappearance have appeared in the organization's journal, TIGHAR Tracks, in the Naval Institute's Proceedings and Naval History, and in LIFE Magazine. His book, Finding Amelia – The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance, was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2006.

About Tom King:

Tom (Thomas F.) King is Senior Archaeologist on TIGHAR's Amelia Earhart Search Project, and co-author of Amelia Earhart's Shoes (AltaMira Press, 2004) – an account of TIGHAR's work in pursuit of the Nikumaroro Hypothesis through 2003. King has been doing archaeological research and writing since he was a teenager in California in the 1950s, and holds a PhD from the University of California, Riverside. He has worked in government, academia and the private sector, and is currently in private practice and affiliated with SWCA Environmental Consultants. He is widely known as an expert in the interpretation and application of U.S. environmental and historic preservation laws to promote the careful management of archaeological sites, tribal spiritual places, cultural landscapes, and other historic places. He has published six textbooks on archaeology, historic preservation, and related topics. He has taken part in three TIGHAR expeditions to Nikumaroro, including the one in 2001 on which the "Seven Site" – thought to be Earhart's last campsite – was found. He has spoken on the Earhart Search Project to a wide range of historical, aviation and civic organizations, including the Kansas City 99s, the Washington Athletic Club, and the Virginia Air and Space Center. King lives in suburban Washington DC, and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..