There’s not much of the earth that remains incognito—no source of the Nile left to find, no highest peak to climb for the first time, no pole that hasn’t been reached. But there are still discoveries to be made. A handful of Delawareans have dedicated their lives to some of the most interesting.
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Gillespie, of Wilmington, may be Delaware’s most dedicated explorer. He and his wife, Pat Thrasher, work full time at finding lost aircraft. They conduct their work and support themselves through The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR (pronounced like “tiger”), a nonprofit foundation whose revenue comes mostly from a few hundred aviation buffs.
Gillespie’s ticket into The Explorers Club was the 2006 book “Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance.”
“The search for Earhart was mismanaged,” he says. “A lot of information was overlooked, leads were dropped, and there was no attempt to coordinate all of the work that was done. The picture became much clearer when I pieced everything together.”
Gillespie’s book painstakingly ties together conflicting information from earlier investigations and adds his own findings from six expeditions to the South Pacific. He generated considerable publicity from his hypothesis that Earhart survived a crash in shallow water off Nikumaroro Island, which is close to Howland Island, her intended destination.
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