Investigators believe they have found parts of Amelia Earhart's airplane
Plane parts found off the waters of Nikumaroro Island
America's First Lady of the Skies disappeared in a flight over the
Pacific Ocean 75 years ago - and the search for her ultimate fate has
been ongoing ever since. Now, investigators believe they've found parts
of Earhart's plane off the waters of Nikumaroro Island.
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, the search started on July 12 and relied on a torpedo-shaped Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, or AUV and a Remote Operated Vehicle or ROV.
While troubled, the hunt did not result in the immediate identification of pieces from Earhart's Lockheed Electra aircraft. "Early media reports rushed to judgment in saying that the expedition didn't find anything," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR says.
"We had, of course, hoped to see large pieces of aircraft wreckage but as soon as we saw the severe underwater environment at Nikumaroro we knew that we would be looking for debris from an airplane that had been torn to pieces 75 years ago, Gillespie said.
Researchers begun reviewing and analyzing all of new material recovered from the site.
"I have thus far made a cursory review of less than 30 percent of the expedition's video and have identified what appears to be an interesting debris field," TIGHAR forensic imaging specialist Jeff Glickman told Discovery News.
Several of the items found appear consistent with the interpretation made by Glickmann of a grainy photograph of Nikumaroro's western shoreline.
As photographed by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington in October 1937, just three months after Amelia's disappearance on July 2, 1937, the photo revealed an apparent man-made protruding object on the left side of the frame.
Imaging analyses of the picture found the object consistent with the shape and dimension of the upside-down landing gear of Earhart's plane.
"The Bevington photo shows what appear to be four components of the plane: a strut, a wheel, a worm gear and a fender. In the debris field there appears to be the fender, possibly the wheel and possibly some portions of the strut," Glickman said.
Recovering the objects is the next goal of the mission.
"If further analysis continues to support the hypothesis that we have found the object that appears in the 1937 Bevington Photo, we'll certainly want to recover it," Gillespie said.
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