The iconographic American aviator and her navigator Fred Noonan went missing on July 2, 1937, during a flight from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island, an uninhabited coral island that lies between Hawaii and Australia. Noonan and Earhart were declared dead in absentia in 1938 and 1939, respectively.
William Snavely, the director of Project Blue Angel, first learned of the Buka Island crash site in 2005 after being tipped off to it by a local corrections officer. However, it wasn't until 2011 that the local government granted Snavely the exclusive rights to conduct dives and investigate the area with his team of researchers.
Having retraced Earhart's route from Lae, Papua New Guinea, Snavely believes that the wreckage has a high chance of being the Lockheed Electra 10E on account of it being found on the aviator's flight route, and the wrecked plane showing similarities to specific modifications that Earhart's Electra had been fitted with for the journey.
Although the entirety of Snavely's collected data has yet to be completely reviewed by experts, initial reports suggest that a piece of glass from the site may be from the Electra's landing light. Snavely has also theorized that Earhart likely turned back toward Papua New Guinea after noting that her aircraft was running low on fuel.
"The Buka Island wreck site was directly on Amelia and Fred's flight path, and it is an area never searched following their disappearance," Snavely told General Aviation News in a statement. "What we've found so far is consistent with the plane she flew."
"While there is no way to be certain yet that this is definitively Amelia Earhart's Electra, the crash site may hold the clues to solving one of the world's greatest mysteries… Amelia and Fred belong to history now; thus, they belong to all of us. It's time for us to come together and rewrite history," he added.
Project Blue Angel launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this month to collect enough funds to foot the bill for their continued expeditions, which are set to take place later in 2019 if all goes as planned, General Aviation reported. The campaign has a goal of $200,000.
This latest development in the movement to solve the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan comes months after a scientific study argued in March 2018 that bones discovered on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro in 1940 belonged to the Kansas native.