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. blueyeddevil

    looks like the face of wait, it's just coral.

    August 20, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Newtonslaw

    you're quite MAD you know. Bi-polor is no joking matter, you should see a doctor very soon and Good luck!

    August 20, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. cjsdaughter

    Did you really just bring the Lord into that ridiculous statement?

    August 20, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. donnie

    figures your user name is romney2012

    August 20, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    u are 1 sick puppy ... get help

    August 20, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fudgeman

    Whoa... Really dude? Wow.......

    August 20, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. MMeans

    And.....this is why Republicans will lose the upcoming election – freaks like this don't appeal to normal people. I'm a moderate, but if this is the side you're on, I want to be as far from it as possible.

    August 20, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ricky L

    The vast majority of the hatred in America emanates from your side of the political divide,'ve picked the perfect account name, btw.

    August 20, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jesus Christ Superstar

    And you are the evidence that Romney will not win in 2012. Not to mention you may be evidence that argues AGAINST evolution.

    August 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. HuPhartNgau

    Well now it's crystal clear. She was shot down by yellow arrows...!

    August 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. JeffinIL

    How is the weather under that bridge?

    August 20, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Broncobuster

    I know of one mom who should have had an abortion!

    August 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. toldUso

    The more I look at the shape the more I think it's Jimmy Hoffa......

    August 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Obama2012

    This is where I post something negative so that everyone will hate on Obama – much Like Romney2012 did. Oh wait, that won't work because you only "see" what you want to see on that one.

    August 20, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    My greatest hope is that the statement made by this user is some kind of odd satire or parody. If not....yikes!

    August 20, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
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