A team of researchers investigating the mystery of aviator Amelia Earhart’s 1937 disappearance
believe they may have spotted a piece of wreckage from her plane just beyond the shore of a remote Pacific island.Forensic imaging specialist Jeff Glickman of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) contends that a sonar image of debris off the island of Nikumaroro — located 800 miles southwest of Honolulu — could represent a wing or part of the fuselage from Earhart’s “Lady Lindy” aircraft.
“It is unique, and suggestive of being man made,” Glickman told Reuters. “It is in the right place, but whether it’s a fuselage or a wing is difficult to say.”
Nearing the end of their quest, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan departed Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937, on a quest to circle the globe along the equator. They disappeared that day and emergency searches did not locate them.
GHAR’s Executive Director Ric Gillespie told us that his team is feeling excited, anxious, and determined as they raise sorely needed funds for a potential summer 2014 expedition to authenticate the object.”There is only one way to authenticate the object — go look at it,” Gillespie told us. “We will, of course, continue to seek expert opinions and advice. We also plan to do a complete re-analysis of all the sonar data from the 2012 trip to see if anything else was missed.”
Gillespie told Reuters that circumstantial evidence collected on previous trips to Nikumaroro suggests that Earhart ended her days as a castaway, ultimately perishing in the island’s harsh conditions.
Items that have been discovered include what appears to be a jar of a once-popular brand of anti-freckle cream from the 1930s, a clothing zipper from the same decade, a bone-handled pocket knife of the type Earhart carried, and piles of fish and bird bones indicative of a Westerner trying to survive.
In July 2012 the team — prompted by a photo taken three months after Earhart disappeared that appeared to show the landing gear of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane — launched a $2.2 million underwater expedition around a reef off of Nikumaroro.
High definition video of the work revealed “a scattering of man-made objects on the reef slope off the west end of Nikumaroro” that resemble the objects in the 1937 photo.
Now it’s just a matter of investigating the sonar images further.
“I’m 100% confident that Nikumaroro is where Earhart ended up, but that confidence is based on many independent lines of investigation that all lead to the same conclusion,” Gillespie told Business Insider via email. “High confidence in any single clue that has not yet been thoroughly investigated is a fool’s errand. This is a really, really good sonar target.”
Only time will tell if the team has solved an enduring American mystery.
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