Amelia Earhart: Footage of “aluminium patch” could explain fate of famous aviator | US News
A newly-acquired 16mm movie film of female aviator Amelia Earhart could shed light on what happened more than 80 years after she disappeared.
The American pilot – the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic – went missing over the central Pacific Ocean, near Howland Island, in 1937 during a round-the-world flight attempt.
It is generally believed that her aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea, but some people dispute that.
The footage shows her 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.
Those attempting to explain Earhart’s disappearance have wondered whether a piece of metal, found washed up on Nikumaroro island in the western Pacific in 1991, is that same aluminium patch.
It features five parallel lines of rivet holes and measures 19 by 23 inches and is thought to be an exact match.
The film, showing Earhart, Mr Noonan and the aircraft in Lae, New Guinea, could hold the clue.
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) said one image contained in the film shows the patch “from a closer distance than any photo we had yet seen”, adding: “The patch was clearly visible.”
It has taken TIGHAR 10 years to reach a deal with the owner of the footage. Once it was in receipt of the footage, it “realised that the still photos are actually taken from frames in the 16mm movie film”.
The group said: “That’s good news. The film was probably shot at 24 frames per second.
“If the camera lingered on the right rear of the aircraft for only one second we have not one but 24 photos of the patch.”
Jeff Glickman, the group’s forensic imaging expert, said: “From from a forensic imaging perspective, it’s like hitting the lottery.”
TIGHAR now needs to get the “brittle, acetate film scanned at high resolution” after which the “painstaking process of forensic analysis” can begin.
It said: “The end product should be a seeing-is-believing comparison between the patch and the artefact that will prove – or disprove – that they are on and the same.”
Some think Ms Earhart died as a castaway after landing her plane on Nikumaroro, while others suggest she died on the Marshall Islands.
Last year, an expert claimed bones found on Nikumaroro in 1940 may well have belonged to the famed aviator and celebrity.