Kernel panic / Internet access with a bad AirPort card

My iBook G4 started suffering kernel panics just over a week ago. They have rapidly increased in frequency to the extent that it can take several attempts to boot up because they have started occurring during the boot up process (originally they occurred after the iBook had been on for a while).
I've looked through the forum and have seen that there seem to be some common causes -RAM, AirPort card, or something to do with the HD. I ran disk utility on the HD and it didn't find any problems and I also successfully ran the 'repair disk permissions'. I have tried taking out the RAM -that didn't do anything. The kernel panic does frequently occur when I am either using Mail or Safari, but as I've said, it also occurs when I'm booting up -does the fact that it happens when I boot up mean that it cannot be the AirPort card (which incidentally is not under the keyboard -so it must be inside)?
Earlier today I switched off AirPort and was able to work on the computer for almost three hours without any kernel panic (but also without internet access). Less than a minute after switching it back on, it froze again.
If this does mean that the problem is with the AirPort card, I have a question about internet access. I use the iBook on a wireless network that stems from a modem with a Mac downstairs and I do not have any internet cables, or a phone line, in the room where the iBook is used. Is it possible to use something like AirPort Express even with a bad AirPort card? And does AirPort Express connect to the iBook, or to the main modem downstairs?
Apologies for so many questions and many thanks for any help you are able to give -this has been driving me around the bend for the past week?

An acquaintance who works for Apple suggested that before assuming that the problem was the AirPort card / buying further equipment, I should boot up with the original installation disk in and use the disk utility function to 'repair disk'. I did that and got a 'Volume Header needs minor repair' message. It repaired that & I restarted the iBook. I was able to do an update back-up to my external hard drive & all was fine until I switched AirPort back on -there was an instant kernel panic.
I figured that it couldn't hurt to run the Apple Hardware Test -did that and restarted again. Was able to open Mail (AirPort was on) but then the AirPort connection disappeared and the pointer froze, but there was no kernel panic screen. I had to force quit -restarted again. This time I was able to use Mail, downloaded a song on iTunes, and was on the internet for about 45mins before the connection disappeared and the pointer froze again. I could force quit the app but with a frozen pointer I ended up having to force quit again.
I waited a while and then booted up again (without problem) but this time I was told that there was no Airport card present! Shut down and reran the Hardware Test (which said that AirPort 'Passed'). When I restarted AirPort was briefly there but disappeared when I opened AirPort Utility and at this point the pointer also froze. I did force quit to get out of the app and then there was a kernel panic. Is this now pretty conclusive that the AirPort card is the problem?
I would appreciate any feedback -I've had a very frustrating week with this.

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