San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 12th, 2009
King sheds new light on Earhart mystery

AmeliauseThe intrepid Amelia Earhart.


Much interest and speculation has surrounded the disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her navigator and colleague, Fred Noonan, in 1937. She is possibly the most famous missing person in the world.

Thomas F. King is an author and the senior archeologist for the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), the organization which has produced both archeological and anecdotal evidence of what may have happened to the shyly charismatic pilot. King spoke Wednesday at Texas State about the intrepid Earhart and what may have occurred to her.

TIGHAR is an interdisciplinary scientific research team that has worked to find the answers to Earhart’s mysterious disappearance since 1989. King also discussed his novel Thirteen Bones, a fictional account of the Earhart story which incorporates facts uncovered by TIGHAR.

Professor Stephen Black from Texas State’s Department of Anthropology, said King’s talent as a writer and a speaker, along with his professional perspective while researching the mystery, made him a good choice to address the students.

“Lots of wild speculation and minimally-researched work has been generated by many different Earhart enthusiasts since the 1940s, but the TIGHAR group has taken an interdisciplinary, fact-based approach to solving the mystery,” said Black. “King worked in the Pacific decades ago with his wife, a culture anthropologist. He brought both cultural familiarity with the region and an archaeologist’s perspective to the project.”

Directory of the Public History Program Lynn Denton said there are several reasons why the Earhart mystery resonates with the public and has endured for so many years.

“The public has always been fascinated with historical narratives that don’t have an ending,” Denton said. “When you combine the record-breaking ‘firsts’ of Amelia Earhart’s life with the mystery of her disappearance, you have a very compelling story. I would also add that she is one of the heroic figures that young girls are encouraged to read about, and for many women, her biography was one of the earliest they remember reading.”

King also will speak to the Cultural Resource Management Seminar (for Anthropology 5334 and History 5375C) as well as leading a professional development workshop at the River Center on Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop, which is $60 for students and $125 for cultural resource management professionals.

Those interested in attending the workshop can register at

King’s Wednesday appearance at Texas State was sponsored by the Public History Program and the Department of Anthropology. More about Thomas King, his writing, and his work, can be found at his blog at

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5 thoughts on “King sheds new light on Earhart mystery

  1. The company that I flew for in the early ’90s (Southern Air Transport) had a Chevron Oil project which staged out of Lae, Papua New Guinea.

    The runway that Amelia Earhart departed on, for this last known flight,…was the view from my hotel window.

    I remember looking out that window many times over those months, and wondering about this.

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