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Researchers claim to have found section of Amelia Earhart's missing plane in the Pacific Ocean

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The mystery of Amelia Earhart's final flight is a little closer to being solved as it has been revealed that a piece of metal found on a remote, uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean has a strong link to being a part of her aeroplane.

Researchers from the The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) uncovered a piece of metal on Nikumaroro island, part of the republic of Kiribati, in 1991. For years they have been trying to distinguish whether it could be a piece of Earhart's aircraft through investigations into similar machines to the one Earhart flew.

And recently the group gained access to a plane similar to Earhart's Lockheed Electra which was being restored, and allowed them to compare the types of metal and design more closely. It appears that the piece of metal found on Nikumaroro matches a repair patch added to Earhart's plane at a stop in Miami during her final flight.

This evidence is "the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart," said Ric Gillespe, founder of TIGHAR. "Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s [plane] as a fingerprint is to an individual."

Amelia and Fred

Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in 1937

Amelia Earhart - the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo - went missing in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world. This would have been a first for the time, and Earhart was warned against the dangers of attempting to circumnavigate the globe.

But sadly, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan never returned from their flight and it has not yet been confirmed what had happened to them.

Her legacy as one of the most determined female adventurers lives on to this day, and this year a pilot also named Amelia Earhart (no relation) completed a flight around the world on Earhart's path as a tribute.

TIGHAR have been investigating Earhart's disappearance for many years, making several trips to Nikumaroro island, where they have found a great deal of evidence it may have been Earhart's final resting place. 

Map

The location of Nikumaroro Island, where the piece of metal was found

They previously found part of a human skeleton, a knife blade, and rouge from a compact, as well as the sites of several fires which imply that Earhart and Noonan could have been stranded there for several days after a plane crash before meeting their deaths. But without DNA tests, it has been difficult to prove whether this theory is true or not, so the new piece of evidence signifies significant hope for the group's mission.

However, skeptics are still uncertain that it is a true piece of evidence without a serial number to identify it as part of Earhart's plane or not. The case may never be solved...

Images: Rex Features, Google Maps, words: Victoria Gray

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