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.
After 10 years of negotiations, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has purchased a reel of 16mm film of Ms Earhart’s Electra aircraft being refuelled at an airstrip in Lae, New Guinea, shortly before she took off on the leg of her round-the-world trip that would take her to the Pacific island of Howland.
The 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.
Attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe close to the equator, Ms Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Lae on July 2, 1937, but failed to locate Howland.
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.