You’ve been looking for a job for how many months? Meet Ric Gillespie. He’s been looking for Amelia Earhart for 24 years. How Gillespie keeps his spirits up and his organization going holds lessons for us all in courage and stick-to-it-iveness. TIGHAR, the nonprofit Gillespie founded and leads, deploys teams to find, recover and preserve historic aircraft.
When Gillespie started TIGHAR in 1985, he had no intention of solving the biggest aviation mystery. “I figured Earhart ran out of gas and crashed into open ocean.” Then two TIGHAR members presented a navigational analysis theorizing that she may have landed on a remote Pacific island, Nikumaroro. Gillespie was intrigued. Over the past two decades, he’s led an investigation that has uncovered historical documentation that the partial skeleton of a castaway was discovered on the island three years after Earhart disappeared. TIGHAR teams have found the castaway’s campsite and recovered artifacts that speak of an American woman of the 1930s. Forensic analysis of a photo taken three months after the disappearance appears to show debris from Earhart’s plane on the island’s reef.