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A fragment of Amelia Earhart’s misplaced aircraft has been identified by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) researchers in Nikumaroro, an island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. This is believed to be the first time that a relic from the debris has been directly associated with Earhart’s last expedition, in which it was trying to revolve the Earth at the equator, and sheds new light on the 77-year-old aviation mystery.
The researchers found 19-inch-wide by 23-inch-long piece way back in 1991 and is strongly believed to be a metal piece installed on the window of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft during her eight-day stay in Miami that was its 4th stop on the journey. A photograph on TIGHAR’s site from The Miami Herald, dated 1st July 1937, shows the aircraft intact with the metal patch.
According to the Discovery News, after identifying the patch in the photograph, researchers compared it with the Lockheed Electra aircraft at Wichita Air Services in Newton, Kansas. It matched the plans and the Electra’s structure. However, the patch was a field modification whose “complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual,” TIGHAR stated. The purpose of the sheet was for the pilot to be able to take in “celestial observations” from thousands of feet in the sky.
The plane was apparently dematerialized on 2nd July 1937 and it’s pilot has prompted a wide range of conspiracy theories, including the rumor that Earhart assumed a new identity on a remote island in the Pacific. According to the new discovery, the Earhart and its navigator Fred Noonan didn’t actually crash into the Pacific Ocean. The pair had to to make a forced landing on the coral reef of Nikumaroro after running out of jet fuel roughly 350 miles from the Howland Island, TIGHAR suggests.
10 previous expeditions to Nikumaroro revealed the evidence that led researchers to believe that the two died there as castaways without resources. Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, in an interview with Discovery News, “Earhart sent radio distress calls for at least five nights before the Electra was washed into the ocean by rising tides and surf.”
The photograph taken by the British research team in October 1937, three months after Earhart disappeared depicted that the piece could very well be a part of a strange object jutting from the water on a nearby reef.In the TIGHAR’s last expedition, sonar imagery spotted an object 600 feet off the base of an offshore cliff, where the organization believes the Electra drifted into the ocean. The “hiccup” was analyzed by a sonar data post-processor based in Honolulu, identifying it to be the right size and shape to be part of Earhart’s aircraft. The organization believes that the rest of the Electra’s remains are buried deep off the west end of the island.
As per the official reports, International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which has long been investigating the Earhart’s disappearance, will make another journey to Nikumaroro in order to further investigate the hiccup using remotely operated vehicle technology. The organization is currently seeking funds to make this journey happen, and to resolve the mysterious surroundings of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.