Pieces of Amelia Earhart's plane might have been located in the depths of the waters off Nikumaroro island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, according to a preliminary review of high-definition video taken last month at the uninhabited coral atoll believed to be Earhart's final resting place.
Carried out by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last, fateful flight taken by Earhart 75 years ago, the underwater search started on July 12 and relied on a torpedo-shaped Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV).
The AUV collected a volume of multi-beam and side-scan data, while the ROV, capable of reaching depths of 3,300 feet, produced hours upon hours of high-definition video.
Plagued by a number of technical issues and a difficult environment, the hunt did not result in the immediate identification of pieces from Earhart's Lockheed Electra aircraft.
"Early media reports rushed to judgement in saying that the expedition didn't find anything," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.
"We had, of course, hoped to see large pieces of aircraft wreckage but as soon as we saw the severe underwater environment at Nikumaroro we knew that we would be looking for debris from an airplane that had been torn to pieces 75 years ago, Gillespie said.