August 19th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

75 years later, the mystery of Amelia Earhart solved?

Debris discovered in the depths of the South Pacific may be remnants of vanished aviator Amelia Earhart’s plane.

“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,” The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery reported on its website.

The question researchers are now asking: Do these new images reveal parts of the same plane captured in a 1937 photo of Nikumaroro.

Discovery News reports that the 1937 photo of the island's western shoreline was taken three months after Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared. The shot by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington, “revealed an apparent man-made protruding object on the left side of the frame.” Forensic analysis of the image “found the mysterious object consistent with the shape and dimension of the upside-down landing gear of Earhart's plane.”

"The Bevington photo shows what appears to be four components of the plane: a strut, a wheel, a wom gear and a fender. In the debris field there appears to be the fender, possibly the wheel and possibly some portions of the strut," TIGHAR forensic imaging specialist Jeff Glickman told Discovery News.

TIGHAR launched the expedition last month, working on a theory that Earhart and Noonan became stranded and ultimately met their deaths on Nikumaroro Island after their Lockheed Electra plane was swept out to sea 75 years ago.

The group’s ninth expedition to the island kicked off with a chorus of excitement and criticism around the Internet. Researchers ultimately returned to the U.S. admitting they had found no obvious signs of the plane.

But new analysis of an underwater debris field may prove the researchers found exactly what they were looking for.

"Early media reports rushed to judgment in saying that the expedition didn't find anything," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR executive director, told Discovery News. "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."

Glickman told Discovery News the group has reviewed less than 30% of the high-definition underwater video taken on the recent expedition, which launched July 12 and concluded on July 24.

TIGHAR theorizes that Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro Island - then called Gardner’s Island - after failing to find a different South Pacific island where they were planning to land. The pair is believed to have landed safely and called for help using the Electra’s radio. And in a twist of fate, the plane was apparently swept out to sea, washing away Earhart and Noonan’s only source of communication. U.S. Navy search planes flew over the island, but not seeing the Electra, passed it by and continued the search elsewhere.

"What makes this the best expedition is the technology we've been able to assemble to search for the wreckage of that airplane," Gillespie told CNN last month. "We have an autonomous vehicle. We have multibeam sonar above the University of Hawaii ship we're on right now. We have a remote-operated vehicle to check out the targets (and a) high-definition camera. We're all set."

Gillespie told Discovery News that if further analysis of the Bevington photo continues to support TIGHAR's theory, the group will seek to recover the objects from the ocean’s depths.

Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?

Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed

Will mystery of Amelia Earhart be solved?

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Filed under: Aviation • History
soundoff (394 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Here's a mystery that's been solved which really effect you in your daily life...

    SSRI drug usage during pregnancy has been linked to the following birth defects in children: Spina Bifida, Nueral Tube Defects, Heart Defects, PPHN Cranial Birth Defects, Lung Defects

    Now for the list of medications causing these defects:
    Prozac® Zoloft® Paxil® Depakote® Effexor® Celexa® Lexapro® Topamax® Pristiq®
    Generic Fluoxetine, Generic Sertraline, Generic Paroxetine, Generic Devalproex, Generic Venlafaxine Generic Citalopram, Generic Escitalopram, Generic Topiramate

    August 19, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      So, Stay away from psychiatrists if you intend to get pregnant. SSRI's are over prescribed and can really cause severe medical and mental problems in certain people. But I'm sure this problem had nothing to do with Amelia Earhart's disappearance!

      August 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • vancouverron

      Pharmaceutical companies killed Amelia.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ vancouverron, If that were the case, how many would be seriously discussing the vast cases that threaten not only ones life (shooting massacres for example), but ones mind.
      Good post Vancouverron

      August 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Davis

      Only use aspirin,.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      At least pharmaceuticals need to go through rigorous clinical trials to prove they are safe and effective before being sold. Not like "natural" health procucts. No testing required in most countries. Now THAT is a scary situation.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex delarge

      here's a mystery that's been solved...the facts are in! You're an idiot.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • T. Lee

      What was it about the topic of this board that you didn't understand didn't have anything to do with what you posted?

      August 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. @Mary

    O D please.

    August 19, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Thinker

    What mystery – that Earhart crashed in the pacific? We know that. The real mystery here is how a bunch of film producers managed to drum up a 'mystery' that they can 'solve'. This adds nothing to the sum of human knowledge, so let's keep all this in perspective, m'kay?

    August 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Amelia Earhart again?
    Guaranteed traffic for a thread, I guess.

    August 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Well hell, I want to know more about this. I can't believe everybody is so disinterested in this breakthrough. Maybe now we can find out if it was engine failure, she ran out of gas, or possibly she ran up on a secret ufo base and they took her out before she could blab. ( Pleas don't insist I add--sarcasm intended )

    August 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Portland tony

    There are probably a billion more interesting and significant mysteries that could and can be solved that would benefit humankind than where Amelia Earhart's airplane crashed. She was a true American aviation pioneer and should be honored by history as such! But, it's time to move on and look at more important mysteries like who's buried in Grant's tomb?

    August 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      "There are probably a billion more interesting and significant mysteries that could and can be solved that would benefit humankind than where Amelia Earhart's airplane crashed."

      And yet you chose to comment on this one. If you don't like it, you can choose not to click on it, and especially not comment on it.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. zzBottom

    "And in a twist of fate, the plane was apparently swept out to sea, washing away Earhart and Noonan’s only source of communication."

    LOL...I seriously hope this is a joke

    August 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOMBO ©

    Here's my theory.

    She crashed into the ocean and died.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • amylynn831

      You may be on to something!

      August 20, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. longtime reader

    I think it's fantastic that this mystery is all but solved. That the media rushed to judgment doesn't surprise me. The media always rushes to judgment. They're a pack of unthinking hyenas, for the most part. Just keep doing what you do and find the truth. There are plenty of us truly interested in knowing what happened. We know the basics. We want the details. And we want Amelia and Fred's spirits, wherever they they may be, to be at last at peace. Thanks for undertaking such a mission and such thorough research. It's appreciated.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony


      August 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Abbeystone30

    I liked this story.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Homer Simpson

      I like stories too.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. geo

    How many dollars have been wasted, searching for this plane, for 75 years? When it's found.....then what? I guess I don't get it....

    my bad....

    August 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      They will extract her DNA and clone her.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Many dollars get wasted by various groups such as: Government, the general public, and foundations... This is just another example.
      In other words ... A facepalmer! lol

      August 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BOMBO ©

    Amelia Earhart shot JFK. Just before crashing in Roswell. And destroying the World Trade Center.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      But before she died she took the time to etch a "C" on a fake moonrock.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bobcat (in a hat)©

    .A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. Upon being asked the price, the bartender responded, “For you? No charge.”

    August 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat (in a hat)©

    .Some people say the glass is half full. Others say it is half empty. Nerds say you made too much glass.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Soo confused.

    Why are we hearing about Earhart every other week on the CNN website? This all looks like a set up for some big story they are planning. There is and will be a search going on for the wreckage until it is found.. but CNN seems to be milking this story.. I smell a skunk.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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