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Amelia Earhart in a plane Amelia Earhart in 1931, after breaking the record for the highest altitude reached by a woman flying an autogiro, an aircraft from the early twentieth century. (Bettmann / Corbis)

Amelia Earhart's Crash Site Found?

Researchers think they have found where the famed pilot died

By Natalie Smith | December 22 , 2010
<br />A team of researchers may have found Earhart's bones on Nikumaroro, a tiny, uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.<br /><br />(Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye)

A team of researchers may have found Earhart's bones on Nikumaroro, a tiny, uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.

(Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye)

On May 20, 1937, Amelia Earhart took off in her airplane from Oakland, California. The famed female pilot was hoping to become the first person to fly around the world along the equator. But somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, her plane disappeared. Earhart (AIR-hart) and her navigator, or guide, Fred Noonan, were never heard from again.

Now, researchers think they have cracked the case. They found pieces of bone on the tiny island of Nikumaroro in the Pacific. Last week, scientists in Oklahoma began tests on the bones to determine whether they match blood samples provided by Earhart's family.

People have been fascinated by the mystery of the lost legend ever since she disappeared. Nikumaroro was explored at the request of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which has spent decades searching for Earhart's crash site.

The bones were found at the remains of a campsite, along with objects made in the 1930s that the team thinks belonged to Earhart and Noonan. They say the items—a pocketknife, a makeup mirror, and bottles made in the U.S.—are similar to ones that Earhart and Noonan were known to own.

Part of the nation of Kiribati, Nikumaroro is located about 400 miles south of Howland Island. That was the destination of the final leg of Earhart's flight before her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937.

The researchers think that Earhart and Noonan's plane crashed near the island and that they spent their final days as castaways there. They expect to find out for sure whether the bones belonged to Earhart in a few weeks.

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