"The navigation line Amelia described in her final in-flight radio transmission passed through not only Howland Island, her intended destination, but also Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro," Gillespie said at a special press event on March 20 hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to Gillespie, the possibility that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan might have made an emergency landing on Nikumaroro's flat coral reef, some 300 miles southeast of their target destination, is supported by a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, strongly point to a castaway presence on the remote island.
"Broken shards from several glass containers have been recovered from the Seven Site, the archaeological site on the southeast end of Nikumaroro that fits the description of where the partial skeleton of a castaway was discovered in 1940," Gillespie told Discovery News.
Found with the skeletal remains at that time were part of a man's shoe, part of a woman's shoe, a box that had once contained a sextant, remnants of a fire, bird bones and turtle bones -- all suggesting that the site had been the castaways' camp. "Unfortunately, the bones and artifacts found in 1940 were subsequently lost," said Gillespie.