Fragment believed to be from Amelia Earhart's plane found on Pacific island, researchers say

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Amelia Earhart and Missing Plane
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Fragment believed to be from Amelia Earhart's plane found on Pacific island, researchers say
(Image courtesy of: Miami Herald)
This patch, found on a remote Pacific Island by researchers with The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, is believed to have come from Earhart's plane Electra. (TIGHAR)
The patch is shown on the plane under this yellow arrow. (TIGHAR)
The shredded patch being held up against a reproduction of where on the plane it would have fit. (TIGHAR)
The patch covered the special window denoted at the back of the plane. (TIGHAR)
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, is seen in this undated photo. (AP Photo)
FILE - An undated file photo shows American aviatrix Amelia Earhart. A $2.2 million expedition is hoping to finally solve one of America's most enduring mysteries. What happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart when she went missing over the South Pacific 75 years ago? (AP Photo, File)
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega surrounded by crowd after she became the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California in 1935. Courtesy Air and Space Museum. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this undated photo, Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane sits on top of a plane. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is wading into one of the 20th century?s most enduring mysteries: the fate of American aviator Amelia Earhart, disappeared over the South Pacific 75 years ago. Clinton is meeting March 20, 2012, with historians and scientists from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which will launch a new search in June for the wreckage of Earhart?s plane off the remote island of Nikumaroro. (AP Photo)
FILE-- An undated file photo shows Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is meeting Tuesday March 20, 2012, with historians and scientists from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which will launch a new search in June for the wreckage of Earhart's plane off the remote island of Nikumaroro. (AP Photo)
FILE-- In a 1937 file photo aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, pose in front of their twin-engine Lockheed Electra in Los Angeles prior to their historic flight in which Earhart was attempting to become first female pilot to circle the globe. A $2.2 million expedition is hoping to finally solve one of America's most enduring mysteries. What happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart when she went missing over the South Pacific 75 years ago? (AP Photo, File)
Amelia Earhart, noted flier, awaiting a call to the stand as an expert witness in an airplane accident case in which Paul Mantz, her technical adviser (shown with her), is involved in Los Angeles on May 16, 1937. (AP Photo)
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan pose with map of the Pacific showing the route of their last flight, in Los Angeles, May 1937. (AP Photo)
Vietnamese Air Force Col. Pham Minh Tuan uses binoculars on board a flying aircraft during a mission to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand, Thursday, March 13, 2014. With no distress call, no sign of wreckage and very few answers, the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane is turning into one of the biggest aviation mysteries since Amelia Earhart vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. (AP Photo)
A cabin crew of the Vietnam Air Force is seen onboard a flying AN-26 Soviet made aircraft during a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the southern sea between Vietnam and Malaysia Friday, March 14, 2014. Vietnam says it has downgraded but not stopped its search for the missing jetliner in the South China Sea and has been asked by Malaysian authorities to consider sending planes and ships to the Strait of Malacca. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)
Officer Lang Van Ngan of the Vietnam Air Force looks out the window onboard a flying AN-26 Soviet made aircraft during a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the southern sea between Vietnam and Malaysia Friday, March 14, 2014. Vietnam says it has downgraded but not stopped its search for the missing jetliner in the South China Sea and has been asked by Malaysian authorities to consider sending planes and ships to the Strait of Malacca. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)
Officer Lang Van Ngan of the Vietnam Air Force looks out the window onboard a flying AN-26 Soviet made aircraft during a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the southern sea between Vietnam and Malaysia Friday, March 14, 2014. Vietnam says it has downgraded but not stopped its search for the missing jetliner in the South China Sea and has been asked by Malaysian authorities to consider sending planes and ships to the Strait of Malacca. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen).
Vietnamese Air Force Col. Pham Minh Tuan uses binoculars on board a flying aircraft during a mission to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand over the location where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo)
A Vietnamese air force pilot touches the controls of a transport plane on Sunday March 9, 2014 during the search and rescue operations for the Malaysian airliner vanished early Saturday on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back, Malaysia's air force chief said Sunday as scores of ships and aircraft from across Asia resumed a hunt for the plane and its 239 passengers. (AP Photo)
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By RYAN GORMAN

Researchers believe they have discovered where Amelia Earhart's plane crashed during her 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

A sheet of metal found more than 20 years ago on an uninhibited island in the Kiribati archipelago in the southwestern Pacific Ocean has been nearly confirmed to have come from her plane.

A team with The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) told Discovery they verified the part's authenticity with a high degree of certainty.

First discovered on the Nikumauroro atoll in 1991, the piece of metal is believed to have come from a very specific repair done to the plane in Miami.

A team in Miami covered a navigational window on Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed Electra with a custom-made metal plate, according to a Miami Herald report cited by TIGHAR.

"The Miami Patch was an expedient field repair," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery. "Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart's Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual."

The rivets and dimensions of the sheet of metal matched those of the Miami patch, according to TIGHAR.

"This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart," Gillespie added.

Other evidence of Earhart having been on the island was discovered as far back as 1940, Gillespie told AOL News. Castaway remains, dead animals and a campsite were discovered by British soldiers but dismissed as the the campsite of a short, stocky European man, Gillespie said.

It was previously believed Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan crashed into the Pacific Ocean when they disappeared July 2, 1937. But it is entirely possible they landed on the island and were able to radio for help.

"The island is surrounded by a flat reef, at low tide it looks like a parking lot," Gillespie explained. His team now believes she made a smooth landing and sent distress signals for five days until the plane was either washed off the reef or the emergency radio died.

A sonar anomaly discovered while poring over reams of data from a 2012 TIGHAR trip to the uninhabited island was found possible by multiple experts sought out by TIGHAR to be the fuselage of a Lockheed plane.

A 2015 trip to the site is scheduled by the non-profit to try to find the rest of the plane.

Donations to their effort can be made here.

Amelia Earhart - Mini Biography

Related links:
Mock, 1st female pilot to circle globe, dies at 88
Wyoming lawsuit over Earhart search before court
Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?
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