Researchers attempting to determine the fate of Amelia Earhart, the pioneering flier who disappeared over the Pacific in 1937, believe that newly discovered footage of her aircraft will help solve one of aviation’s longest-running mysteries.
Hard evidence regarding what became of the pioneering American pilot Amelia Earhart – who disappeared over the Pacific while attempting to become the first woman to fly around the globe – remains tantalisingly elusive more than 80 years on.
A reel of 16mm film showing Ms Earhart’s Electra aircraft being refuelled on the island of New Guinea could offer vital clues, say experts with the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).
The Daily Telegraph reports that researchers are hoping to be able to enhance the film to a degree at which it is possible to determine the exact shape of the panel and the lines of rivets that were used to attach it to the airframe, and then match it with an artefact discovered in the Pacific in 1991.
The footage shows Earhart’s plane taking off on a test flight on the morning of 1 July, 1937. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared the following day.
The pair were in a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, which had an aluminium patch attached to its fuselage in Miami to repair damage prior to their departure.
TIGHAR researchers have disputed the commonly held theory that the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, suggesting that she would have had sufficient fuel to reach uninhabited Gardner Island, then a British protectorate but now a part of the Republic of Kiribati and known as Nikumaroro.
TIGHAR now needs to get the “brittle, acetate film scanned at high resolution” after which the “painstaking process of forensic analysis” can begin. “The end product should be a seeing-is-believing comparison between the patch and the artefact that will prove – or disprove – that they are one and the same,” it said
Some think Earhart died as a castaway after landing her plane on Nikumaroro, while others suggest she died on the Marshall Islands.