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Fortuitous Flight Fragment Found

Researchers identify wreckage of Amelia Earhart's plane

The fate of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart has been one of the most enduring mysteries of the last 80 years — but new research on an old discovery indicates the case may finally be closed.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced that analysis of a metal fragment found on the uninhabited Pacific atoll of Nikumaroro in 1991 was a piece of the aircraft Earhart flew in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937:

Clues to the fragment's origin came from its dimensions and pattern of rivets, which closely match an aluminum patch made to Earhart's plane in Miami, Florida during her round-the-world attempt:

If the Nikumaroro fragment is indeed part of Earhart's ill-fated aircraft (the researchers say they have matched it to the plane to a "high degree of certainty"), then the discovery would suggest Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, safely landed the plane on Nikumaroro's flat coral reef and died as castaways on the atoll.