New evidence has come to light in the mystery of the disappearance of the pioneering American aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished in 1937 amid an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Researchers from the Penn State University have used advanced imaging techniques to re-analyze a metal panel, found on the island of Nikumaroro in 1991, that is believed to have come from onto Earhart’s aircraft.
Their scans revealed hidden text on the weathered aluminum panel that could help to identify it — and confirm whether or not it did come from the missing plane. If the latter is proven correct, the discovery could add weight to the popular theory that Earhart made it to Nikumaroro after contact was lost with her as she approached Howland Island, one of the last waypoints on her planned route.
Earhart — along with her navigator, Fred Noonan — disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in mid-1937 during her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the globe.
The pair, flying in a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, were last seen departing from the city of Lae, New Guinea on July 2, on one of the final legs of their journey. However, their plane never arrived as expected at their next stop at Howland Island, which lies nearly halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
According to the radio logs of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Itasca — on station at Howland to support the flight — in one of her last transmissions, Earhart broadcast that her plane was running out of gas, and only had half-an-hour left.
Despite rescue efforts that lasted 17 days, covered a whopping 150,000 square miles of the Pacific and cost the US Coast Guard and Navy a then-record-breaking $4 million, no conclusive physical evidence of the Electra 10-E or her crew were ever found.
Nearly 18 months later, on January 5, 1939, Ms Earhart and Mr Noonan were declared dead — and their disappearance became one of aviation’s most enduring mysteries.
Explanations proposed ranged from the prosaic — that they simply crashed into the ocean and sank after running out of fuel — to the outlandish, with one popular conspiracy theory suggesting that Earhart survived the flight, assumed a new identity, and moved to New Jersey.
Weird they didn’t search the islands or investigate other clues they had such as radio transmissions that were picked up.