Earhart’s island

Forensic scientist claims to have solved the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance

An undated picture taken in the 1930s of American aviator Amelia Earhart, at the controls of her plane. (AFP/Getty Images)

New scientific evidence appears to strongly suggest that legendary aircraft pilot Amelia Earhart survived a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean before dying while marooned on a remote island. Speculation over Earhart’s mysterious 1937 disappearance during an attempted flight around the world has captivated researchers for decades, but a new forensic analysis by University of Tennessee professor Richard L. Jantz of bones found in 1940 on Nikumaroro Island may have finally solved the mystery for good.

Ric Gillespie, the director of the International Group for Historical Aircraft recovery, has argued for years that testimony from professional radio operators and a 1937 photo taken by a British expedition pointed to an Earhart crash on a coral reef off of Nikumaroro, where he believes she radioed for help for nearly a week before the plane and her equipment was pulled into the sea. Interest in Gillespie’s theory had wavered after a History Channel documentary featured a photo that purportedly showed the aviator in Japan — lending credence to theories that Earhart had actually been captured by the Japanese and later died in custody. But, as it turned out, the photo had actually been published in 1935 — two years before Earhart set out on her fateful trip around the globe.

A British expedition to Nikumaroro in 1940 had discovered human remains, part of what appeared to be a woman’s shoe, a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant and a bottle of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur. An analysis of the bones in 1941 concluded that the bones belonged to a man, but Jantz’s new analysis found that that Earhart’s bones were “more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 [percent] of individuals in a large reference sample.”

According to Jantz, his research shows conclusively that “the only documented person to whom they may belong is Amelia Earhart.” But after so many years investigating the mystery, proponents of alternative theories about Earhart’s disappearance don’t appear ready to let the matter rest quite yet. For more on Earhart, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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