Amelia Earhart Discovery? Evidence of Downed Plane Discovered in the Pacific

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AP

Amelia Earhart, left, and navigator Fred Noonan pose with a map of the Pacific showing route of their last flight.

Some 75 years after Amelia Earhart’s plane disappeared, a new discovery on the bottom of the ocean points to where the aviator may have crashed — and died. (via tighar.org)

A debris field videotaped in the waters off Nikumaroro Island could include remnants of the aviator’s plane — the latest batch of evidence in what has been an ongoing search for clues (see the most notable Earhart discoveries from the last 75 years). According to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), “a review of high-definition underwater video footage taken during the recently completed Niku VII expedition has revealed a scattering of man-made objects on the reef slope off the west end of Nikumaroro.”

(PHOTOS: Amelia Earhart, Before Her Mysterious Disappearance)

Spearheaded by TIGHAR, the expedition began July 12 and used an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to scan for data and record hours of video footage. A TV special of the recent expedition aired Sunday night on Discovery.

(MORE: The world’s top 10 famous disappearances)

The team of researchers initially set out in search of large pieces of aircraft wreckage, TIGHAR’s executive director, Ric Gillespie, told Discovery News. But early investigations revealed that the underwater environment off the shores of Nikumaroro — known as Gardner Island at the time of Earhart’s journey — was more severe than expected. This difficult-to-navigate wreck site, paired with some early technical malfunctions, precluded any immediate announcements of major discoveries. Accordingly, Gillespie says, early media reports “rushed to judgment in saying that the expedition didn’t find anything.” (Okay, even NewsFeed admits guilt there.)

But everything changed late Friday, when TIGHAR took to the web with the breaking news that its forensics imaging specialist Jeff Glickman had now examined additional high-definition video footage obtained near Nikumaroro and isolated specific artifacts resting on the ocean floor.

Given this “debris field” of “man-made objects,” the bigger question now concerns whether or not these new images depict pieces of the same Lockheed Electra aircraft portrayed in the famous photo taken off Nikumaroro’s western shore in October, 1937 — three months after Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared. According to Glickman, several of the remnants — though considerably beaten up — do correspond to the 1937 photograph, shot by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington.

(MORE: Amelia Earhart secrets — in her saliva?)

Bevington’s image frames four key components of the doomed plane: a strut, a wheel, a wom gear and a fender. As told to Discovery News, TIGHAR’s new images seem to reveal the same fender, as well as possibly the wheel and some portions of the strut.

The next step of the investigation involves collection and analysis, which TIGHAR hopes will eliminate all doubt as to the debris field’s authenticity.

Thus far, the researchers have examined less than 30% of the new data collected between July 12 and July 24. (Thanks to the initial roadblocks encountered, the team logged only five days of search time during the 12-day journey) The expedition — which cost TIGHAR a reported $2.2 million — marks the ninth the group has led.

MORE: Amelia Earhart: One in a Million

12 comments
airbum
airbum

Some mysteries dont need to be solved! Let Amelia rest in peace and live on in our hearts as a inspiration, not a failure.

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

It is ironic that this story has been practically alternating with that of the Mars rover. It seems as if finding life on Mars and finding the remains of the Earhart crash are always on the verge of taking place. Get ready! Sort of like the "developing world" is always right on the cusp of becoming developed. I can remember when "experts" thought that Nigeria was on the edge of becoming the prosperous democratic hub of a rapidly developing Africa--now 40 years ago. Oh well, who knows, a couple of these things may actually happen. God knows, we should be prepared for the news.

Tom Cannard
Tom Cannard

my mind was lost in the 60's and i really would like someone to donate some money to my exposition to go find it,its somewhere back in newyork in some field they call woodstock,please help me find my mind....

DouglasWestfall
DouglasWestfall

But they didn't find anything. She's not there -- the plane's not there.

Amelia's Lockheed Electra was within 75 miles of her target Howland Island when her radio cut out. Then the US sent nine ships, 66 aircraft, and well over 3,000 sailors and airmen. They covered well over 250,000 sq. miles of open sea and every island within a 650 mile radius of Howland.

US CGC Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts 30, was on watch that morning and said: "In the early morning, signals came in pretty good. I actually did go outside and stand right out the radio shack and thought I would hear a motor any second. Her voice was loud and clear; sounded frantic on her last transmission. Then it cut off." 

Amelia Earhart was an American heroine, a record-breaking aviatrix, and a celebrity world wide. 

Earhart was not a spy -- she was a decoy.

You Search for what you want to keep; you Hunt for what you want to catch.

Taken from, The Hunt For Amelia Earhart

Douglas Westfall, historic publisher, Specialbooks.com

SoCalGuy
SoCalGuy

Just another chapter in a long-running scheme by Ric Gillespie to get more money

out of those gullible enough to believe his far-fetched claims. The outcome

of this latest adventure is utterly predictable: Promising results, but

we'll need to go back (again and again...) so please continue to send us

money to continue the efforts.

notyouthankgod
notyouthankgod

yeah, we'll probably see Geraldo

Rivera in diving gear soon, opening  a giant clam shell that she was supposedly eaten by

Guest
Guest

It is the same scam as  TIGHAR's  search for the "White Bird" in northeastern

Maine that went on for several years. Every year they found some "object" that had to be sent away to be analyzed .

SoCalGuy
SoCalGuy

 Anyone wanting an objective analysis of the Earhart disappearance should

read  "Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved" by Elgen and Mary Long. Tons

of original research, and a LOT more factual info than anything that's

come out of the TIGHAR group on this subject.

SoCalGuy
SoCalGuy

 I also used the word "scam" in my original post, but on second thought changed it to avoid possible legal action from that group - didn't want to inadvertently contribute financial support to their "efforts" (yeah, that's a good word for it...  ;-)).

Mikki Mousse
Mikki Mousse

Any search of the sea floor will yield debris.

Amelia's Lockheed?  Probably not.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

BlueSkiesMike
BlueSkiesMike

Before you opine, Mikki Mousse, you should check the facts. 

TIGHAR's exhaustingly detailed and objective research over the last several years seems to have provided everything possible except for the actual "smoking gun" of absolute proof, as its director, Ric Gillespie, has admitted.  However, when you look at all of that objective research, and TIGHAR's dedication to "doing it right" (well documented in the book Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance [With DVD]), I absolutely believe they will find that undeniable proof... perhaps with their next mission during which  they intend to actually recover the objects their many hours of sonar and video documentation have found. 

I believe we will all know what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in the not too distant future, and the most important parts of a 75-year-old mystery will be mostly solved.