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Amelia Earhart mystery could be solved with new clues in old photo

The Amelia Earhart mystery has been one that has gripped the American imagination for 77 years and an old photo taken in Miami in 1937 just might hold the clue that finally solves it. According to Ric Gillespie and the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), the photo could very well hold evidence that could lead to discovering the famed aviatrix's final location.

Newsmax reported July 2 that researchers believe that a rare photo taken of the right side of Amelia Earhart's airplane could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of her disappearance. If what they believe is visual evidence of a shiny replacement material patching a previously windowed area on the plane and can be verified, the finding could at least help pinpoint Earhart's final location.

The photo, taken by the Miami Herald in 1937, is to be enhanced to hopefully get a higher resolution and determine a rivet pattern on the metallic patch. If that rivet pattern matches the pattern found on a piece of Alcoa 24ST Alclad aluminum recovered from Gardner Island in 1981 by TIGHAR, it could provide the connection between the scrap piece of aluminum and the missing Earhart plane.

Gardner Island is a small island near Earhart's final desination of Howland Island. Both are part of the Phoenix Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Australia and Hawaii.

Back in Amelia Earhart's era, the type of aluminum found on Gardner Island was often used for repairs on aircraft and might have been used on Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E to cover over an area on the plane that had housed a window custom-built for Earhart's navigator, Fred Noonan, for easier access for plotting courses via starlight. The patch was put in place following a hard landing in Miami by Earhart just a month prior to her disappearance.

The repair made for the damaged window was never recorded...

"We know there’s one piece on that plane that wasn’t built or installed by Lockheed – the replacement for that missing window," Ric Gillespie told the Miami Herald. "So maybe that’s the match.

"The replacement of that window had to be done in Miami at a Pan Am facility that was helping Earhart. If we can match that rivet pattern in the photo, I don’t see how anyone can argue against this anymore."

Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Miami on June 1. Miami had been a stopover in an attempt to circumnavigate the world. She disappeared over the Pacific en route to Howland Island on July 2 and has since become the fascination of generations of people -- like Ric Gillespie -- who study her life and the mystery surrounding her disappearance.

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