Another TIGHAR "Earhart artifact" questioned

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In 1991, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery found a piece of aircraft aluminum on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro. Every since, TIGHAR's Ric Gillespie has been insisting, and trying to prove, that the battered aluminum sheet came from Eahart's aircraft, which vanished during her 1937 around the world flight attempt.

Many others disagree. The most recent is a volunteer at the New England Air Museum in Connecticut, USA, who makes a good case that TIGHAR's Earhart "artifact" is from a C-47. See  for Tom Pahshaw's detailed analysis.

Gillespie has dismissed the C-47 match as "not even close" but has declined to directly address in detail TIGHAR's own investigation of the NEAM's C-47 wings, despite the fact that Palshaw provided his documentation to TIGHAR several years ago.

Gillespie has also stopped talking about TIGHAR's own metallurgical analysis of the "artifact," which shows it resembles WWII aluminum much more closely than 1930s aluminum. He remains focused on a new "forensic analysis" of film taken during Earhart's final flight that he thinks may finally prove the piece came from her aircraft.

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I am not sure it is from a C-47 wing as the irregular spacing of the double row of rivet holes on the artifact do not match the jig drilled rivet lines seen on the “matching” portion of the C-47 wing, but that doesnt prove its the Miami window patch.

As for Mr Glickmans skills to conclusively prove the artifact is the Miami patch through his “analysis” of some grainy out of focus film footage from Lae, well thats as likely as him ever delivering the peer reviewed analysis promised since 2014 that evidenced “he can see matching rivet lines” in a 1937 photo full of glare and reflections.

Tighar has long since been a cult following the utterings of a High Priest, based on nothing but pseudoscience.


Mark Pilkington

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I would agree with Mark to the point that the aluminum sheet may not be from a C-47, but I'm not prepared to dismiss it outright simply because the sheet isn't an exact, to-the-millimeter match with a known C-47 (although that's the standard Gillespie is insisting on). This is simply due to the huge number of minute variances between the many different manufacturers of C-47s during WWII - something I've seen on C-47s I've inspected.

TIGHAR has artificially limited the potential sources for the artifact to known Allied aircraft crashes and wrecks in the area of Nikumaroro, specifically at Canton Island, which was a HUGE transshipment, repair and supply depot for that part of the Pacific. Doing that left them with:

  • P-39 Airacobra( 1 loss)
  • Boeing B-17 Fortress (2 losses)
  • PBY Catalina (8 losses)
  • B-24 Liberator/Navy PB4Y-1 (3 losses)
  • C-87 cargo version of B-24 (1 loss)
  • C-47 Skytrain (1 loss) This aircraft crashed on Sydney Island, 230 miles east of Nikumaroro.
  • Lockheed 10E Special (1 loss)
  • PV-1/Army C-60 Ventura (1 loss)
  • l-749A Constellation ( 1 loss)
  • PBM Mariner (3 losses)
  • B-25/ Navy PBJ Mitchell (2 losses)
  • Sikorsky S-42B (1 loss)

None of these aircraft can be positively excluded as the source of the aluminum sheet, Gillespie's definitive statement and "research report" to the contrary. None of the aircraft TIGHAR examined at the National Museum of the US Air Force were inspected on the upper surfaces or many interior surfaces; not all types that could have been the source were available for inspection, and no systematic notes, measurements or photos were taken during the inspections.

Another issue that TIGHAR hasn't addressed as a possible source of the aluminum is the large number and types of aircraft that passed through Canton Island that may have needed a wing panel or whatnot repaired. You can add the list:

  • P-40 Warhawk
  •  P-51 Mustang
  • P-47 Thunderbolt
  • P-38 Lightning
  • F4F Wildcat
  • F4U Corsair
  • F6F Hellcat
  • C-46 Commando
  • C-56 Lodestar
  • PB2Y Coronado
  • B-26 Marauder
  • TBF/TBM Avenger
  • SB2C Helldiver
  • PV-2 Harpoon, and I'm sure others. As I said, a lot of aircraft passed through Canton on their way somewhere else.

How many of those aircraft have 0.032-inch aluminum sheet anywhere on them, and rivet holes with the correct diameter and spacing? I don't know - but neither does TIGHAR. Until Gillespie positively eliminates all these potential US WWII aircraft as the source of his artifact, all he has is a piece of aluminum that could have come from anywhere.

There's also the matter of TIGHAR's metallurgical analysis ...

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The attached photo compares an overlay of the "2-2-V-1" aluminum sheet TIGHAR believes came from Earhart's aircraft atop Tom Palshaw's photo of the C-47 wing.  Though hard to align perfectly due to the curvatures in the aluminum sheet and the paper template Mr. Palshaw used, the agreement is quite striking.  Certainly one of the strongest cases I've seen for the true source of the aluminum sheet.

Profile picture for user DH82EH

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I think the title of this thread should be changed to something like "Tighar Earheart artifact solved"
That looks to be a spot on match.
Re Glickmans' analysis skills, I'm pretty sure he is the same person who authenticated the recently debunked "Bigfoot" film.
Don't forget to preface his credibility with that!

Gillespies' source of income will remain safe as there is a sucker born every minute!

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Rest assured, DH82EH , Gillespie is not about to let his Magic Scrap of aluminum go quietly into the night ...

I'm sure it's going to have a prominent place in the soon-to-be-released "How TIGHAR Found Amelia" film, coming to a social media account near you!


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TIGHAR continues trying to fit its scrap of aluminum to Earhart's aircraft, although now Ric Gillespie is, curiously, starting to walk back some of his earlier assertions while doubling down on others.

With regards to the chemical makeup of The Scrap, in this forum discussion,2074.msg43491.html#msg43491  he says, "The alloy percentages in the 1943 B-17 for the elements specified by ALCOA are most similar to one of the samples from a 1935 Electra.
Clearly, no conclusion about the age of 2-2-V-1 can be drawn from the available data. "

That's not the whole story, and TIGHAR's own analysis of The Scrap shows it. Gillespie is correct in that the main elements in Alclad are basically the same, whether it's 1930s or WWII manufacture. ALL Alclad had to have copper, manganese and magnesium in them, according to the 1939 Federal Standard and the 1941 Alcoa standard No dispute there. Where Gillespie goes astray is by saying that the main element percentages for The Scrap are similar enough to WWII Alclad that no conclusions can be drawn.

TIGHAR's own report from 2015 ( )notes that analysis of the TRACE elements, which Gillespie discounts, tell a different story, and "a careful examination of the data reveals at least two markers that appear to potentially be time dependent."

The analysis looked at chromium, nickel and zinc as "marker" elements whose percentages seemed to differ over time, "While the zinc difference may be a toss-up, the chromium content appears to be a strong marker and would thus appear to show 2-2- V-1 to resemble the alloys from the later dates. Nickel may also be a potentially important marker as it would appear to follow this same trend. Of course this very limited data base is by no means conclusive, but neither is it supportive of the patch being from the earlier era as the trend appears to be consistent and predictable."

Seems like an apples and oranges kind of thing. Metallurgy doesn't lie. The Patch is more consistent with WWII aluminum than with the 1930s aluminum - from Electra crash sites - that TIGHAR submitted for analysis.

Gillespie is also admitting that something he was told more than two years ago may be valid, that The Scrap is from a C-47,2074.msg43495.html#msg43495  .  "The rivet pattern on the wing at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) is closer to the pattern on 2-2-V-1 than we originally thought, but it’s not a perfect match" seems to be quite a turnaround from his earlier, dismissive "not even close." TIGHAR has had the information from the New England Air Museum volunteer (see original post above) since July 2017

Maybe The Scrap is from the C-47A that crashed on Sydney Island during WWII. Maybe it's from any of the more than two dozen types of US aircraft TIGHAR hasn't definitively excluded as being potential sources. The only thing for sure is that it's metallic makeup is saying 1940s, loud and clear.

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This artifact, identified by TIGHAR as 2-2-V-1 and known to people who questioned  its' TIGHAR stated origins, as "The Magic Scrap", has had questions thrown at it from left, right and centre.  Proclaimed by Richard Gillespie as a "must be" from the Earhart Electra c/n 1055 in 1992 and again in 2014, it has been turned every which way on top, bottom and sides of an Electra Model 10 in a museum in an attempt to place its' location on an Electra and it has failed miserably.

After 1992, it then rested for some 22 years until a bright idea emerged from a TIGHAR Member, that: "Could it be that 2-2-V-1 was the 'Patch' rivetted over the aperture left by the removal of the large right-hand-rear window ?".......which ocurred at Miami just before Earhart and Noonan departed on the 2nd attempt at the 'Around the World' flight. 

On the TIGHAR Forum, there then followed ream upon ream of explanations as to how this "Patch" could have removed itself from an assumed Electra after an assumed landing on Gardner Island or Nikumaroro as it is called now.  "Pounding wave action", "Explosive forces", "Noonan kicking it out with his feet" were put forward. 

There were myriad pages of structural hypotheses from TIGHAR of "internal reinforcements " and "bracing members" that had been rivetted to this Patch in an attempt to explain away the need fror multiple rivet hole lines on the Magic Scrap, none of which lines "lined-up" with the original rivet lines on an Electra 10.

Those of us as readers of this diatribe who had structural experience with aircraft questioned the very basic mistakes that would have been made by an aircraft structures repair person in applying this so-called "Patch" to an Electra 10. Two CAD drawings were made individually by two current members of this Forum that showed that 2-2-V-1 was too big in one dimension to be able to fit the window aperture using standard repair technique.  Photographs emerged of the Electra c/n 1055 at Karachi and Darwin that showed an oil canning dent on the "Patch" that belied the assertions of "Internal Bracing Structiure" the basic need for the rivet lines.

All through this, over the years, TIGHAR brushed aside these concerns and continued promoting 2-2-V-1 as being part of the Elecra during solicitations for donations.

I applaud the NEAM and Tom Palshaw for his work in obtaining a positive match.  I think all of us wo have questioned the origins of "The Magic Scrap" have felt that the origin lay in the C-47A wreck on Sydney Island.