The tale of Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance on July 2, 1937 during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe is a familiar one. For years, many believed that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan crashed into the Pacific Ocean after running out of fuel near Howland Island, their intended destination. However, a recently identified piece of aluminum, named Artifact 2-2-V-1, disproves this theory and offers insight into what really happened.
Artifact 2-2-V-1, nicknamed “The Miami Patch,” was first recovered in 1991 from an uninhabited island, Nikumaroro, located between Hawaii and Australia. Since its discovery, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has been investigating its connection to Earhart’s aircraft, a twin-engined Lockheed Electra.
During her eight-day stay in Miami, the fourth stop on the expedition, Earhart installed a piece of metal on the Electra, which replaced a navigational window. An infamous picture published in The Miami Herald shows the Electra on Tuesday, June 1, 1939 with this shiny new piece of metal.
TIGHAR has examined this metal and compared the dimensions of it to the structural components of a restored Lockheed Electra. The pieces matched.
“The Miami Patch was an expedient field repair,” the executive director of TIGHAR, Ric Gillespie, told Discovery News. “Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual,” he added.
This recent discovery presents a new possibility for what really happened to Earhart and Noonan. Instead of crashing into the Pacific Ocean, they may have actually made a forced landing onto the coral reefs of Nikumaroro Island.
Gillespie and his team have also discovered evidence of a castaway presence on the island, thus suggesting that Earhart and Noonan lived and died there.
“Earhart sent radio distress calls for at least five nights before the Electra was washed into the ocean by rising tides and surf,” Gillespie said.
Three months after Earhart’s disappearance, a photo showing the island’s Western shoreline with an object sticking out of the water was taken. The object’s shape and dimensions mimic the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra.
During TIGHAR’s last expedition, an anomaly was also detected through sonar imagery. This anomaly could, in fact, be a part of the aircraft washed into the ocean.
These clues will hopefully be stitched together in June of 2015 when TIGHAR returns to Nikumaroro on a 24-day expedition. These findings could finally solve the mystery of what really happened to one of America’s legends and heroines, Amelia Earhart.
[Sources: Discovery.com; Simpson Street Free Press Archives]