One of the most riveting mysteries in modern times may be one step closer to being solved. According to researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), a piece of Amelia Earhart's lost aircraft may have finally been discovered.
The Electra disappeared over the Pacific Ocean 77 years ago, when the famed avitator set out on her ill-fated round-the-world flight. Earheart's body, along with that of her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, were never discovered. Up until now, there were no signs of the twin engine monoplane airliner, either. Many theories have since circulated — some more far-fetched than others — about what happened to the aircraft and its passengers? Was it shot down by the Japanese? Did Earhart secretly return to the U.S. and assume a new identity? Not likely.
Instead, experts believe that Earhart ran out of fuel near Howland Island — an uninhabited coral island near the equator — before plunging to her watery grave. Wednesday's revelation however, might disprove that. A swath of aluminum that was found in 1991 is now believed to have come from Earhart's aircraft.
"We don't understand how that patch got busted out of (the plane) and ended up on the island where we found it, but we have the patch, we have a piece of Earhart's aircraft," said Ric Gillespie, the executive director of TIGHAR.
To come to this conclusion, researchers compared the dimensions and physical attributes of the discovered piece of metal to a replica of the plane being restored in Newton, KS. "The patch was an expedient field modification. Its dimensions, proportions, and pattern of rivets were dictated by the hole to be covered and the structure of the aircraft. The patch was as unique to [Earhart’s] particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual,” read a TIGHAR press release.