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.”