20/08/2012 10:37 BST | Updated 20/08/2012 10:55 BST

Amelia Earhart, Investigation Into 1937 Disappearance Of Female Aviator 'Finds Evidence Of Downed Plane In Pacific'

Researchers investigating the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart 75 years ago say underwater video of man-made debris may have revealed her final resting place.

Footage taken last month in the waters off Nikumaroro island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, shows evidence of what could be parts of Earhart's plane.

The hunt, carried out by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), utilised multi-beam sonar and focused on the island where the group believe Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crash-landed and died.

The $2million July expedition had been plagued with technical problems, with many expressing disappointment it had not produced the dramatic, conclusive proof hoped for.

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amelia and fred

Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan are believed to have crash-landed and died

"This is just sort of the way things are in this world," TIGHAR president Pat Thrasher explained at the time. "It's not like an Indiana Jones flick where you go through a door and there it is. It's not like that - it's never like that."

Yet further scrutiny of the underwater footage has since been conducted away from Nikumaroro, and the results are encouraging.

"It's still very early days, but we have man-made objects in a debris field in the place where we'd expect to find it if our theory on the airplane is correct," TIGHAR director Ric Gillespie said.

earhart search

Underwater equipment is unloaded from a ship in Honolulu ahead of the TIGHAR voyage last month

Jeff Glickman, a forensic imaging specialist, confirmed the statement, pointing out to Discovery News he had "made a cursory review of less than 30 per cent of the expedition's video."

The debris in question is believed to be the landing gear of the Lockheed Electra Earhart was piloting when she disappeared.

Gillespie told Reuters he and his team had known they they would not find a "nice intact airplane."

He added the local environment is "very severe" because the ocean "tears things up and tries to bury" them.

Earhart and Noonan left Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937, during a quest to circumnavigate the world along an equatorial route. They were never seen again.


Amelia Earhart