The final resting place for Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan is finally known today, 77 years after their plane disappeared. A square piece of aluminum is identified to “a high degree of certainty” as belonging to Amelia Earhart’s plane. The piece was among many other artifacts recovered off the uninhabited Pacific Island, Nikumaroro, which has long-believed to be where the journey of Earhart and her navigator ended, according to Fox News on Oct. 29.
The Island is found in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii, which was near Earhart’s flight plan. If the plane was experiencing any problems it would stand to reason that Earhart and Noonan would opt for a landing on that island which was charted at the time of Earhart’s ill-fated flight.
There have been at least 10 expeditions to Nikumaroro in the past 77 years since Earhart’s disappearance, one was just three months after her flight seemingly fell off the face of the Earth. Within the last few years modern technology was used to enhance the detail of some of the old pictures taken during that early search and an object was discovered in one of the photos that looked like landing gear. 77 years ago that landing gear was sticking out of the water just off the beach of Nikumaroro on a fringing reef, reports UPI News today. It is in that area that the remainder of the plane is believed to be today.
Ric Gillespie, the executive director of TIGHAR, who has made 10 archaeological expeditions to Nikumaroro, will be going back again with his team to scope out the water of the island in search of Earhart’s plane. They are going by what was seen in the now enhanced picture taken during the first expedition for Earhart. The picture that showed what looked like the landing gear protruding out of the water on a reef near the shore of the island 77-years-ago will offer them a map of sorts on where to start their search. Sonar taken during one of the latest expeditions indicates a possible debris field from her plane off the shore of the island, as seen on the video above.
While the search may find Earhart’s craft, chances are Earhart or Noonan’s remains will never be found. Nikumaroro Island is home to some of the biggest crabs in the world, called coconut crabs. They grow to the size of a medium dog and they get their name because their claws are big enough to crack open a coconut. The island is saturated with these crabs and these creatures would have carted off any human remains long ago. You can see the picture of the coconut crab above, the type found on the island. They are also found on Christmas Island, which has the largest population of these crabs in the world. This is where this picture was taken.
According to The Discovery News back in 2012, It’s believed that any human remains were most likely carried off by these gigantic creatures decades ago and that is why the full skeleton remains of the two missing flyers will probably never be found. Partial remains or pieces of bones are all that will most likely be found, if anything at all.
Decades after Earhart had been missing another expedition found what looked like an old campsite on that same island. One of the items found around that campsite was an old sextant, the type that Noonan was known to have used. Other items were discovered in the campsite ruins such as a woman’s shoe, which was the size Amelia wore, and a jar of freckle cream, which was a product that Earhart was known to use. These items were found strewn about that old campsite.
It looked as though the two may have remained alive for some time. Although the items found were compelling, not one could definitely be linked to Earhart or Noonan with certainty, but that has changed today. The piece of Earhart’s plane indicates that the two indeed came down on Nikumaroro Island.
The piece of aluminum found from Earhart’s plane was a patch that was installed on Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra at a stop she made during her ill-fated flight in Miami. The repair was referred to as the “Miami Patch” because it was installed when she made the planned fueling stop in Miami during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
That patch replaced a navigational window and the finished repair can be seen in a photograph taken as she departed Miami to continue on her trip. Although the patch was an “expedient field repair” the dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns made up a complex fingerprint that was unique to Earhart’s twin engine Electra.
This find puts the final chapter on Earhart’s life and it contradicts the front-runner theory that Earhart and Noonan had crashed into the Pacific Ocean after running out of fuel. Instead they made a forced landing on or along the shoreline of Nikumaroro Island and survived for some time afterwards.