Aluminum Patch May Be From Amelia Earhart's Lost Plane

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Researchers say they may have identified a piece of the airplane flown by vanished aviatrix Amelia Earhart as she made an ill-fated bid to circle the globe more than 70 years ago. As reported by Discovery News, an investigation done by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, looked at a small piece of aluminum sheeting that was found on the Pacific atoll of Nikumaroro in 1991. The location has long been suspected by some Earhart enthusiasts as a place she and navigator Fred Noonan may have made a forced landing. The researchers found that features of the piece of metal line up with a quick repair patch that was put on Earhart’s aircraft during a stop in Miami as she made her 1937 attempt.

"Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s [plane] as a fingerprint is to an individual," Discovery quoted TIGHAR researcher Ric Gillespie as saying. "This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart." TIGHAR detailed its research on the patch on its website, and said it will continue to conduct tests on the fragment.

Researchers say a piece of aluminum aircraft debris, shown here as it was found on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro in 1991, matches up with a patch that was installed on Amelia Earhart's lost airplane.TIGHAR
A red circle indicates the area on Amelia Earhart's airplane where an aluminum patch was installed during a repair stop in Miami.Miami Herald file via TIGHAR



--- NBC News Staff