Amelia Earhart made history when she became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic in 1928. The daring Earhart further captivated the world's imagination when she disappeared mysteriously in 1937, along with her plane, a Lockheed Electra, and Fred Noonan, her co-navigator. After the plane crashed, Earhart and Noonan disappeared without a trace. To this day, no part of her plane or any evidence of what happened to her has ever been recovered, until today. Scientists finally linked a scrap of metal found in 1991 to Earhart's plane.

The metal, found on the island of Nikumaroro in the Western Pacific, is a piece of aluminum believed to be part of Earhart's plane. Researchers found it more than 20 years ago while investigating Earhart's crash. Her plane disappeared near Nikumaroro. Officials launched an investigation to look for Earhart in 1937 after she disappeared, but were unable to find anything. In 1991, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery was able to find a scrap of aluminum on Nikumaroro. There was no proof to link it to Earhart, however.

Recently, the TIGHAR realized that the scrap of aluminum matched exactly to the size and shape of an aluminum patch that Earhart had custom-made to replace one of the windows on her airplane. Even the patterns of rivet holes aligned perfectly with where the holes would have been on Earhart's plane. 

"The patch was as unique to her particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual," the TIGHAR team wrote in an abstract detailing the find.

The TIGHAR relaunched their investigation to find a trace of Earhart's plane in 2012, using a photo of Nikumaroro from 1937 that showed what looked like a part of a Lockheed Electra, the model of plane Earhart was flying, in the water surrounding the island. Using modern technology, the team took images revealing a strange shape in the water. Now that this found piece of aluminum has been successfully linked to Earhart's plane, the IGHAR is almost certain that this shape is the remains of Earhart's plane.

The TIGHAR is planning to make another trip to the island next year in 2015 and attempt to recover the remains of the plane.

You can read more about their exciting find here.

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