Amelia Earhart found? Her plane discovered? Over the past 76 years, people have made those claim quite a few times. But there may be something to it this time.
Last year we reported on the discovery of several items — a jar of 30s-era freckle cream that Earhart was known to use, an American-made woman’s compact, buttons, and the zipper from a flight jacket — on the remote Nikumaroro Island in the Pacific Ocean. And now, the same researchers have revealed a sonar image of a 22-foot long object greatly resembling a plane (a significant anomaly in the sonar image) just to the west of the island.
The grainy image represents the potential end of the 76-year-old mystery of Amela Earhart’s disappearance. The finding was made by researchers from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). They theorize that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, made an emergency landing on the uninhabited island’s reef, stayed sometime on the island before succumbing to the elements, and that their plane at some point was washed off the reef into the ocean, where it now appears to be — 600 feet below the surface of the water, just to the west of the island. Amelia Earhart was flying a Lockheed Electra aircraft at the time.
The primary competing theories are that she either crashed into the Pacific Ocean and died instantly or shortly after, or that she was captured and killed by the Japanese military. But the recent discoveries from TIGHAR — the discovery of several items closely linked to Earhart, the discovery of items/tools on Nikumaroro Island suggesting a castaway presence, and the new sonar image showing a “plane” — certainly provide decent evidence for the emergency landing theory.
Some background on Amelia Earhart via Wikipedia:
Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.
During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.
The next step for the researchers from TIGHAR is to raise funding for a return visit to Nikumaroro Island — to confirm the presence of the plane, as well as look for new evidence.
“The better a piece of evidence looks, the harder you have to try to disqualify it,” TIGHAR notes. “So far, the harder we’ve looked at this anomaly, the better it looks. … Maybe it’s pure coincidence that it‘s the right size and shape to be the Electra wreckage – the Electra that so much other evidence suggests should be in that location.”