Aug 21, 2012 10:10 AM EDT
Aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart has been the subject of great mystery since her unexplained disappearance in 1937 on her Lockheed Electra plane. Studies last month suggested Earhart's airplane could be located, but the expedition was thought to have ended in failure. However, upon a closer look at underwater images gathered, researchers believe they have found Amelia Earhart.
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"We have man-made objects in a debris field... in a location where we had previously reasoned where airplane wreckage should be... We don't want to oversell this. We have lots of clues... It looks like it might be the right stuff, but we need a lot more work done, and ultimately we're going to have to go back and recover it," Ric Gillespie, executive director of the search team said to the Los Angeles Times.
The researchers, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), had previously closed the $2.2 million expedition. However, now they see hope of resolving the Earhart mystery.
During the initial investigation, evidence suggested that the famous aircraft may be in the unpopulated Pacific island of Nikumaroro.
Over $2 million dollars was designated for a research team to conduct a high-tech search of the Lockheed Electra remains.
"The public wants evidence, a smoking gun, that this is the place where Amelia Earhart's journey ended," Gillespie told Reuters.
"That smoking gun is Earhart's plane."
The research team planned 16 days for the journey and 10 days for study at the actual location.
"We've found artifacts of an American woman castaway from the 1930s, but we haven't found anything with her name on it," Gillespie continued to say to Reuters. "We've tried to get contact DNA from things that were touched, and it didn't work. The environment was too destructive. The recovered bone samples were too small. The logical thing is the airplane."
TIGHAR research team believed that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, might have made a stop at Nikumaroro island, which at the time was called Gardner Island.
Gillespie suspected that the tides and surf may have washed the plane away. Therefore, "underwater robotic submarines equipped with sonar" would be used to inspect the ocean floor at Nikumaroro.
"That's scary. What if you look there and you don't find it? It might mean you're wrong. Or after 75 years of dynamic, destructive ocean activity, we could be absolutely right and not find anything," Gillespie said to Reuters.
"It's hard not to see the parallel with Amelia's trip," he continued. "You prepare the best you can and recognize, well, you're taking a risk. We're out to prove the case if it can be proven."
Earhart was beloved by America when she set out to become the first person--male or female--to circumnavigate the equator in an airplane. She grew to fame as an aviation pioneer and broke several world records for her aviation conquests. Earhart's life is still a fascination to many as she is a pop culture icon even today.
However, during Earhart's attempt to fly around the world in 1937, she and her plane disappeared over the central Pacific ocean, prompting one of 20th century's unending mysteries.
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