A 15-person team today begins a five-day, thousand-mile voyage from Fiji to the Pacific island of Nikumaroro, where it'll be searching both land and sea for traces of Amelia Earhart. WNDU profiles a perhaps surprising member of the TIGHAR team: a 40-year-old man from South Bend, Ind., who owns a trucking company. Rodney McDonald tells the station he will be part of what TIGHAR says is a four-person land team tasked with scouring the northwestern end of the island "for signs of an initial survival camp" and sweeping the area with metal detectors. TIGHAR notes that the existence of what it's calling Camp Zero "is purely theoretical" and has "zero historical support beyond the logic that some kind of onshore campsite should have been desirable or even necessary."
AFP last week reported that TIGHAR's 11th expedition will be staffed by TIGHAR Executive Director Ric Gillespie, along with 14 volunteers, and as for why McDonald is one of them, he tells WNDU it's not because he's an Earhart nut. In fact, the station describes his application as "unconventional because he knows very little about Earhart." But after turning 40, feeling "ready for a new life experience" and reading an article about the expedition, he decided to give it a go. He says he's most interested in whether survival would have been possible there. "The other 14 people are all about ... 'Can we find the missing link? Can we solve this mystery?' I'm going to be an objective set of eyes because my only goal in this is to figure out what it would be like to sustain life." Well, and there's a second goal: He intends to write a book about the experience. Dig deeper into the expedition here. (Read more Amelia Earhart stories.)