Considered the holy grail of aviation archaeology, the search for Amelia Earhart has kept the world guessing ever since the tall, slender, blonde pilot took her last flight off into legend on July 2, 1937.
On Oct. 28, 2014, Ric Gillespie, executive director at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), announced that a piece of aircraft debris found by his team on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati is, with a high degree of certainty, the first physical evidence of Earhart's plane.
The breakthrough would prove that, contrary to what was generally believed, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, did not crash in the Pacific Ocean, running out of fuel somewhere near their target destination of Howland Island in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.
Instead, they made a forced landing on the smooth, flat coral reef of Nikumaroro.The two became castaways and eventually died on the atoll, which is some 350 miles southeast of Howland Island.
Where the elusive aircraft ended up is a mystery Gillespie will try to solve in summer 2015, when he embarks on a new Nikumaroro expedition to verify whether a sonar anomaly captured off Nikumaroro in 2012 is indeed the wrecked aircraft.
"We seem to have a piece of the Electra. We want, and the world wants, the rest of the airplane," Gillespie told Discovery News.