The latest developments in the search for Amelia Earhart and her aircraft are promising. Researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (or TIGHAR) believe a fragment found in 1991 likely came from the aviator’s Lockheed Electra plane. Moreover, scientists say the search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan has been narrowed, and there is a high-degree of certainty the plane wreckage came from her airplane, according to an October 29 Discovery News report.
The new research finding is centered on a tattered fragment (now called Artifact 2-2-V-1) that is believed to have originated from Earhart’s plane when she took off as part of a record-attempt to fly around the world. A group located the debris 23 years ago in Nikumaroro, a desolate reef situated in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati (between Hawaii and Australia). And based on painstaking research, TIGHAR representatives say the fragment belongs to Earhart’s twin-engine airplane – beyond a doubt.
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed plane had a piece of aluminum sheeting riveted over a special window that remained in place during her eight-day-stay in Miami, Florida — the fourth leg of her epic trip. Research and a bevy of pictures support scientist’s belief that the metal patch was installed in place of a navigational window on Earhart’s plane.
In this photo of Earhart’s plane departing Miami for San Juan, Puerto Rico, the patch researchers believed they found is shown where the window was bored out. Executive director of the research group, Ric Gillespie, weighed in.
“The Miami Patch was an expedient field repair. Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual.”
Gillespie’s group traveled to Wichita Air Services, located in Newton, Kansas. There, they compared the discovered Artifact 2-2-V-1 to a model being restored to airworthy condition. The rivets and other defining characteristics matched Amelia Earhart’s plane perfectly. It was fit like a hand to a glove.
“This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart,” the executive director said.
Should the new finding of the fragment prove to be an inconclusive match, it effectively debunks the most common theory about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. The general consensus is that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, experienced difficulty and crashed into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
However, the latest breakthrough would prove that the pair made a forced landing on the uninhabited isle. There, they became castaways and eventually died from exposure or a lack of sustenance.
Armed with this new fragment, TIGHAR will return to the remote reef and modify its search efforts. If funding is successful, the group will have access to advanced technology that will assist in the search for more evidence to determine what happened to Amelia Earhart 77 years ago.