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Hyperspectral imaging possible Amelia Earhart wreckage

Hyperspectral imaging possible Amelia Earhart wreckage

An aircraft recovery group will collect hyperspectral data using the SOC710-VP for evidence as to whether a piece of recovered wreckage came from the plane flown in Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated 1937 expedition.

It has long been hypothesized that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan crashed on Nikumaroro, a remote island in the western Pacific Ocean. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has mounted numerous expeditions to Nikumaroro, in search of physical evidence to support the theory that Earhart landed on the reef around the island before rising tides pushed her Lockheed Model 10 Electra off the reef edge.

In 1991, TIGHAR found a piece of aluminum aircraft skin on Nikumaroro and have been attempting to determine whether it is a piece of the missing Lockheed Electra flown by Earhart. A TIGHAR investigative commission working with the Restoration Division of the National Museum of the United States Air Force could not identify any military aircraft or airplanes from known crashes in the region that would match as a possible aircraft-of-origin.

The aluminum panel does not match any part of standard Electra construction, but a photograph of Earhart’s plane on the airport tarmac in Miami on the morning of her final flight reveals an unrecorded repair — an aluminum patch replacing the rear window. TIGHAR investigators believe the aluminum panel recovered from Nikumaroro could be the window patch installed in Miami.

TIGHAR and forensic imaging expert Jeff Glickman have leased the SOC710-VP to collect hyperspectral data on the aluminum sheet in the hopes of finding evidence to prove or eliminate the artifact as the patch from Earhart’s plane. Hyperspectral imaging is a non destructive tool that can be used in forensic analysis to distinguish and recognize materials and enhance the visibility of faint or obscured features.

“We know that portions of the sheet were exposed to intense heat, enough to effect the ductility of the metal but not enough to melt it. Those heat damaged portions may show up under hyperspectral imaging” said Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR. “We’ll also take a look at other artifacts we’ve found on the island that may yield new information under hyperspectral examination.”

Ric Gillespie, executive director, International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) holds a scrap of airplane wreckage, Thursday June 26, 2014, at his home in Oxford Pa., that is consistent the Lockheed Electra that Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared. Photo Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek

Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) holds a piece of airplane wreckage consistent with the Lockheed Electra that Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared. Photo Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek

Amelia Earharts Lockheed Electra with patch

Photograph taken June 1, 1937 showing an undocumented patch over the Lockheed Electra’s window.

Zoomed in

Magnified view of the aluminum patch installed shortly before Earhart’s final flight. Hyperspectral imaging may be able to conclusively match or eliminate the wreckage found on Nikumaroro as the same aluminum patch.

On the exterior surface of the sheet labeling with the letters “AD” are visible. Imaging could help reveal more of the original label.

On the exterior surface of the sheet labeling with the letters “AD” are visible. Imaging could help reveal more of the original label.

On August 28 and 29 Jeff Glickman took  hyperspectral images of the artifact using a Surface Optics SOC710-VP camera.

On August 28 and 29 Jeff Glickman took hyperspectral images of the artifact using a Surface Optics SOC710-VP camera.

  • On August 6, 2014
Tags: amelia earhart, forensics, hyperspectral imaging, SOC710-VP, TIGHAR

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