Metal Isn't From Earhart's Plane, Chief Assembler Says

From Associated Press

The man in charge of assembling Amelia Earhart's plane said Tuesday that a piece of fuselage found on a remote atoll couldn't possibly have come from the famed aviator's sleek Lockheed Electra.

"Not even close," said Ed Werner, who compared the dimensions and shape of the piece of aluminum with a duplicate of Earhart's plane at the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland.

The aluminum, plus a medicine bottle cap and parts of a woman's shoe, were found on a small atoll, called Gardner Island when Earhart vanished in 1937 but now called Nikumaroro.

A template of the 19-by-23-inch piece of aircraft aluminum was constructed of clear plastic and placed against the museum craft.

"It didn't fit anywhere on the plane," said Werner, 82, of Santa Cruz, a retired Lockheed assistant foreman. "Not on the belly where repairs had been made. Not anywhere."

Elgen Long, a retired San Mateo airline pilot who has spent the last 20 years investigating Earhart's ill-fated flight, agreed.

"That fragment did not come from Amelia Earhart's airplane or any other Lockheed Electra aircraft," he said.

Richard Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, told a news conference in Washington on Monday that the items prove Earhart landed on the island and died there, probably of thirst.

Gillespie took issue with Werner and other former Lockheed employees who dispute assertions that the findings have a link to Earhart.

"I think my experts are superior to their experts," said Gillespie, whose experts include a metallurgist and an aerospace engineer.

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