With Flight MH370 still being a perplexing mystery at the time of this writing, the involvement of the public in finding missing aircraft has been growing more than ever. Thanks to online satellite services, that’s already happening for aircraft recently missing. However, what about aircraft that’s been missing for years and possibly forgotten by the public? The amount of planes lost since the earliest days of flight probably number in the millions by now, with some getting record amounts of private donations to help find them.
You can probably guess which search likely has the most donators: Amelia Earhart’s plane. It’s the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (or TIGHAR) that’s known for seeking out Earhart’s plane over the last 25 years. They seem to be getting closer based on images taken in 2012 off the island of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati. While that might bring some irony in comparison to flight MH370, TIGHAR is much more than just trying to find Earhart’s Lockheed Electra.
With more of an appetite in the public finding lost aircraft, the rewards in finding older ones can be just as meaningful. TIGHAR is all about historic preservation in many of those missing aircraft and working with museums in the recovery of the artifacts. At the same time, the expeditions help solve longstanding mysteries of missing aircraft, some of which only aircraft aficionados may know about.
If you want some adventure rather than just sitting and looking at satellite images at home, TIGHAR gives you some real excursions into tropical climates while making membership unchallenging.
How to be a TIGHAR Member
It’s only $100 a year at a sponsor level to be an official member of TIGHAR, though they take private donations all the time for the periodic Earhart excursions as well as others. Students can be members for only $45, as well as seniors. At the associate level, it’s $55 a year. Recently, though, they’ve added a new and interesting layer to being a member.
One of the new incentives to joining TIGHAR now is gaining access to rare research material that’s only available to specific members. This includes obtaining rare materials about the search for Amelia Earhart the general public has never seen. For a researcher, the $125 for this membership level might seem steep, yet could pay off with the exclusive information if writing a book on the subject. Considering TIGHAR doesn’t charge extra for the research materials, researchers on Amelia Earhart can have everything that’s known about her and her final flight.
When you become a member with TIGHAR, you can get involved in other historic endeavors like helping build a replica of the “Devastator” torpedo bomber for aviation museums. The aforementioned aircraft was pivotal in the early bombing raids of World War II, particularly in the Battle of Midway.
There’s also the ongoing search for the Midnight Ghost, a plane that contained two World War I pilots that attempted an intercontinental flight from Paris to New York right before Charles Lindbergh did the same. While the latter succeeded, the former ended up crashing somewhere over the Atlantic and never seen again. Excursions are still ongoing in trying to locate the plane wreckage.
And that just scratches the surface of the famous and no-so-famous missing flights that could be investigated later around the world.
Now we can only hope that Flight MH370 won’t be one of TIGHAR’s expeditions 20 years from now, or become like the new large-scale Amelia Earhart mystery. One thing about getting involved finding lost aircraft: Some of them become so entwined in pop culture that they can become perpetual moneymakers if you’re a writer.