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Apr 13 2012

Searcher drawing new attention in the hunt for Amelia Earhart

Searcher drawing new attention in the hunt for Amelia Earhart

For most of the 25 years he’s been investigating the disappearance of famed aviator Amelia Earhart, Ric Gillespie has gotten little traction. Experts and various self-proclaimed skeptics have dismissed, doubted, and debunked his theory that she and her navigator did not plunge into the vastness of the Pacific, but instead lived as castaways on a pinpoint of land called Nikumaroro.

A smudge in a 74-year-old photograph turned everything around. A forensic analyst in Washington thought it looked more like an object than a photographic defect. With some of the same techniques he had used to analyze security-camera footage, he made out what he thinks is the landing gear of Earhart’s long-lost plane.

Now, a senior official at the State Department has seen the photo and publicly stated there’s a “possibility that this is a strut, a wheel with a surrounding mud flap, of an airplane.”