The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is among the most lingering mysteries in aviation but it appears that some of the questions that evolve around her ill-fated flight will finally be answered with a piece of clue discovered over two decades ago.
Earhart made history for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, she disappeared and likely died along with her navigator Fred Noonan after her plane went down on July 2, 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. People have long since tried to know what happened to the doomed flight.
The plane Earhart used during her ill-fated round the world expedition, a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, could have offered some clues on what could have happened to the famed woman aviator but it was not found. Thus, the mystery endures until this day.
It appears though that a sheet of aluminum that was recovered in 1991 was part of Earhart's missing aircraft. The aluminum sheet, which measured 19 inches by 23 inches, was found by a group of researchers who were conducting investigation on Earthart's disappearance in Nikumaroro Island in the Western Pacific Ocean, near to where the Earhart's twin-engined Lockheed Electra vanished in 1937.
The problem with Artifact 2-2-V-1, as the metal sheet is called, was its size and shape did not appear to fit any part of the missing Aircraft. Things, however, took a turn after an old photo resurfaced.
Researchers from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), who have been conducting investigations on the doomed flight for 26 years, found that in a Miami Herald photo that shows Electra as it was departing from Miami for Puerto Rico on June 1, 1937, the aircraft had a shiny patch near its rear, which according to TIGHAR researcher Richard Gillespie, was an improvised repair and thus completely unique to Earhart's plane.
By analyzing the old photo and examining a restored Electra in order to determine how the patch would have been attached to the aircraft, the researchers realized that Artifact 2-2-V-1 was a perfect match in terms of shape, size and the patterns of the rivet holes. Researchers said that the patch is unique to Earhart's aircraft as a fingerprint.
"The patch was an expedient field modification. Its dimensions, proportions, and pattern of rivets were dictated by the hole to be covered and the structure of the aircraft. The patch was as unique to her particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual," TIGHAR said in a statement.