A recently resurfaced photograph of Earhart's plane – taken by the Miami Herald in 1937, just before her doomed second attempt to fly around the world – captures a shiny metal patch on the fuselage not seen in countless other pictures of her aircraft.
Could this – a replacement of an old window – finally be the clue that unravels the decades-old mystery?
Prominent Earhart investigator Ric Gillespie believes so. He also hopes that a computer enhancement will link it to a piece of wreckage he and his team discovered a quarter century ago on the tiny island in an area of the Pacific – where the aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished.
"If we can match a rivet pattern from the repair in the photograph to a rivet pattern on the wreckage, I think it would be beyond dispute that Noonan and Earhart weren't lost at sea, but made it to the island," Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, told the Miami Herald. The evidence, he believes, could indicate Earhart actually made it to the Gardner Island and found herself stranded.
Another AmeliaAnd, in related news: Improbably, another woman named Amelia Earhart is currently attempting to recreate her namesake's flight around the world.
The 31-year-old Amelia Earhart – no relation to the legendary aviator – began flying at the age of 21 and took off on her 24,300-mile trek in Oakland, California, on June 26. She hopes to complete her trip in 17 days.
If she does, according to E!, the latest Earhart will be the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single-engine plane.
"By recreating and symbolically completing her flight around the world, I hope to develop an even deeper connection to my namesake and also encourage the world to pursue their own adventures," Earhart writes on her web site, The Amelia Project.
The newest Earhart, who also initiated the "Fly With Amelia Foundation" to provide scholarships for high school students to attend flight school, not only benefits from state-of-the-art advances to assist her modern-day flight – including synthetic vision and dual GPS – but the young pilot also has Twitter to keep everyone apprised of her whereabouts.
"We see Kilimanjaro!" she wrote Wednesday, just after penning the biggest irony of all. "On this day in 1937 Amelia Earhart went missing. Her spirit of adventure lives on in many women around the world."