Researchers Say They Have Found A Piece Of Amelia Earhart's Plane

A 19-by-23 inch piece of aluminum found in 1991 has now been identified as a piece of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra, "with a high degree of certainty." The famous aviatrix disappeared on July 2, 1937. The incident became one of aviation's greatest mysteries, prior to the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 this year.

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It has been 77 years since Amelia Earhart and her copilot, Fred Noonan disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, and aviation enthusiasts, historians and researchers have remained intrigued ever since. The artifact in question is a piece of aluminum that researchers believe was placed over a navigational window opening in the back of the plane, on the right side. The patch was installed during a stop in Miami, during the fourth stop of her world tour attempt, prior to departing to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The so-called "Miami Patch" was found in 1991, on an uninhabited atoll called Nikumaroro, in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. Nikumaroro is part of the republic if Kiribati, and 350 miles Southeast of Howland Island, over which Earhart made her last known radio transmission.

On October 7th of this year, researchers from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) took the metal patch to Wichita Air Services, in Kansas, to compare it to the size of the navigational window on an Electra that is currently under restoration there. The rivet pattern and structural components of the artifact were found to match the structure of the Electra being restored.

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Some researchers have believed for a long time time that Earhart and Noonan didn't simply run out of fuel and plunge into the ocean, but were able to land the plane and became castaways, where they later died. Over the years, 10 expeditions have gone to Nikumaroro and have found artifacts such as jars that provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence. During their last expedition, TIGHAR also found "an anomaly" 600 feet below the surface near Nikumaroro that they believe may be the resting place of Earhart's Electra. They suspect the plane was washed off the shore by high tides, and then over an underwater cliff. TIGHAR plans to return to the site next year with sonar equipment, to confirm whether or not they have located the missing plane.

Source: Discovery News

Top photo via Associated Press

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