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A Piece of Amelia Earhart’s Aircraft?


by Monty Fowler, former TIGHAR member no. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016


This is the 30-plus-year timeline of a piece of aircraft aluminum found by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) on Nikumaroro Island in the Pacific Ocean.  TIGHAR labeled the artifact as 2-2-V-1, and has long stated that 2-2-V-1 is from Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft when she allegedly crash-landed on that island.

2-2-V-1 became a key component of TIGHAR’s “Nikumaroro Hypothesis” and has been discussed, mentioned or written about hundreds of times on the group’s website, internet discussion forums, social media accounts and newsletters over the ensuing three decades

All TIGHAR research bulletins, articles, forum posts and reports cited are authored by Executive Director Ric Gillespie unless otherwise noted. Yellow highlights denote missed opportunities by TIGHAR to resolve the artifact’s identification, as determined by Fowler.


July 2, 1937 – Lockheed Electra 10-E aircraft with pilot Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan aboard vanishes somewhere in the central Pacific Ocean during attempted around-the-world flight.


Dec. 17, 1943 –US Army Air Force C-47A-60DL, serial number 43-30739, crashes on Sydney Island, Pacific Ocean, killing all aboard the twin-engine transport aircraft. Bodies recovered by US Army Air Force, wreckage left on island. This is the only aircraft crash on record at what is now known as Manra Island. Nikumaroro Island is 225 miles west of Sydney/Manra Island.

    Sources: E-mail communications with Fowler from Craig Fuller, director of Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research.

Circa 1950 – Some residents of Sydney Island are moved to Gardner Island (now known as Nikumaroro), likely taking pieces scavenged from the C-47A crash with them to use for handicrafts, utensils, tools, etc.  

    Source:, subject: The Sydney Crash Found

Oct. 18, 1991 – The piece of aircraft aluminum that becomes known as Artifact 2-2-V-1 is found during TIGHAR’s Niku II expedition on now-uninhabited Nikumaroro Island, in the former village site.


March 5, 1992 – TIGHAR Research Document No. 32, summary of characteristics of 2-2-V-1 by the National Transportation Safety Board, documents the aluminum sheet’s size (about 23 by 19 inches), thickness (0.032 inches), rivet hole patterns, surviving rivets, and a piece of wire tangled in one corner.


April 1992 – The Mystery of Amelia Earhart, Life magazine article written by Gillespie, where he states that 2-2-V-1 “is compatible” with a fuselage skin on the bottom of Earhart’s aircraft. “We found a piece of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft. There may be conflicting opinions, but there is no conflicting evidence. I submit that the case is solved.” Experts consulted by Life disagree with Gillespie; experts consulted by TIGHAR agree with Gillespie.

    Source: From Fowler’s copy of magazine.

May 1998 – Back To Square One for 2-2-V-1, TIGHAR Tracks Vol. 14 No. 1, states, “Recently analyzed photographic evidence indicates that the section of aluminum aircraft skin we found on Nikumaroro in 1991 (Artifact 2-2-V-1) does not come from the part of the Earhart aircraft where we had suspected it did. The aluminum sheet … does not seem to fit any known aircraft type, including the Lockheed Electra.”


July 1998 – Gillespie reportedly checks the fit of 2-2-V-1 against a “C-47/DC-3” and disqualifies that aircraft type as a source, saying “Is our mysterious piece of airplane skin from a C-47A? We've tried it on various Gooneys [nickname for the aircraft type] we've come across, but not necessarily on an A -model.” It is not publicly known which specific aircraft were used for comparisons.

    Sources: E-mail between Fowler and third party (1); TIGHAR discussion forums;, subject: The Sydney Crash Found

July 26, 1998 - Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 7, The Crash at Sydney Island, has full details of the C-47A crash in 1943.  The summary states in part, “How the aircraft artifacts found on Nikumaroro compare to components of a C-47A is sure to be the subject of much research and discussion on the Earhart Search Forum over the coming weeks.”


June 2001 – Treasure Map, Artifactual:, TIGHAR Tracks Vol. 17 No. 5, says in part, “Although still of undetermined origin, the section of aluminum airplane skin (Artifact 2-2-V-1) found in 1991 exhibits damage that is consistent with its being torn from an aircraft by powerful surf action.”


 August 8, 2012 – First discussion in the TIGHAR internet forums, by TIGHAR member Jeff Neville, that 2-2-V-1 may be a patch applied over the right rear navigator’s window of Earhart’s aircraft during the second World Flight attempts Miami stop.


May 22, 2014 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 71, Report of TIGHAR’s Artifact 2-2-V-1 Commission on Research conducted at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, in March 2014, concludes in part, “The available evidence now suggests that the artifact is probably not from a WWII aircraft and is probably from an aircraft smaller and lighter than wartime types.” None of the top surfaces of any of the museum’s aircraft is examined.


July 5, 2014 – Scientific Analysis of Fine Art Report No. 1417: Identification of Aluminum Paint on Aluminum Aircraft Fuselage, Jennifer L. Mass, Ph.D., analysis of paint on 2-2-V-1 compared to contemporary Lockheed aircraft components, concludes that 1930s-era alkyd resin paint was not present on 2-2-V-1. Not published on TIGHAR’s website, the report is briefly summarized elsewhere (see entry below).

    Source: E-mail communication to Fowler from Gillespie.

July 8, 2014 – The Earhart Project: A Smoking Gun At Last? A Research Update from Ric Gillespie, summarizes TIGHAR views to date on 2-2-V-1, noting "The possibility that 2-2-V-1 might be the patch started to look less crazy."


Sept. 9, 2014 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 72, A Smoking Gun?, states, “it’s looking more and more like Artifact 2-2-V-1 is the patch that was installed on Earhart’s Electra  … at the beginning of her second world flight attempt.” TIGHAR's volunteer forensic photo imaging expert Jeff Glickman, who has been involved in the Earhart Project for many years, scaled and removed camera-induced distortions of contemporary photos of the presumed Miami patch to attempt matching rivet lines on the photo with the actual rivet lines on 2-2-V-1. This is the first of a many-years effort by TIGHAR to find and use old photographs and Glickman’s forensic analysis to prove a match between 2-2-V-1 and Earhart’s aircraft.

    Sources: ;,1490.msg35816.html#msg35816 ;

Oct. 28, 2014 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 73, The Window, the Patch, and the Artifact, summarizes, “The patch was an expedient field modification. Its dimensions, proportions, and pattern of rivets were dictated by the hole to be covered and the structure of the aircraft. The patch was as unique to her particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual. Research has now shown that a section of aircraft aluminum TIGHAR found on Nikumaroro in 1991 matches that fingerprint in many respects.”


Nov. 16, 2014 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 74, Is TIGHAR Artifact 2-2-V-1 from a PBY?, concludes, “There is no ‘perfect match’ of the artifact with a PBY. There is no close match with a PBY.” This is prompted by a detractor of the Nikumaroro Hypothesis emphatically stating that the artifact came from a PBY aircraft, and providing a photograph to support that contention.


Feb. 19, 2015 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 75, Laboratory Report, 2-2-V-1, Lehigh Testing Laboratories, Inc. – Report of Findings. A chemical analysis of various period aircraft aluminum skin pieces to see if suitable “markers” in the metal’s composition could establish when 2-2-V-1 was manufactured. Comparison with samples from contemporary (1930s) Lockheed Electra's shows distinct differences in the aluminum alloy composition between them and 2-2-V-1. The lab also measures the artifact’s thickness as 0.030 inches, different from the NTSB report and Gillespie’s own measurements of 0.032 inches.

    Sources:,1490.msg35678.html#msg35678 ;,1490.msg35674.html#msg35674

Feb. 19, 2015 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 76, Fit Analysis, 2-2-V-1, A Report as to the Purported Fit to Lockheed Electra NR16020, by Jeffrey Neville, TIGHAR Member 3074R, concluded, “The artifact is too wide to be the true navigation window covering on the Electra given fracture failure evidence in the extreme widths where a finished edge would have to appear, to support provenance.”


July 16, 2017 – Gillespie and TIGHAR board member Mark Smith visit New England Air Museum (NEAM) in Windsor Locks, Conn., to examine the wing of a C-47B built in 1944, after museum volunteer Tom Palshaw advises that the rivet patterns on an upper right wing panel seem to match those on 2-2-V-1. Gillespie states it was “not even close” and dismisses the C-47 as a possible source.

    Source:,2074.msg43099.html#msg43099 ;,2090.msg43300.html#msg43300

July 22, 2017 – E-mail and photographs from Palshaw to Gillespie, documenting that Palshaw’s template of 2-2-V-1 matches upper right wing panel of NEAM C-47B, noting that “Artifact 2-2-V-1 shows clear evidence of a violent crash” and summarizing, “The deliberate characteristics of the artifact match the design features of the C-47B wing. … It is my feeling that the C-47B wing cannot be eliminated as the source aircraft at this time.”

    Source: E-mail communication forwarded to Fowler.

March 20, 2018 – When asked on the TIGHAR forums if there have been any recent developments on the status of 2-2-V-1, Gillespie responds, “No decent developments. We’ve been busy working on less frustrating avenues of research.”


July 31, 2018 – Gillespie states on TIGHAR’s Facebook page that, “The jury is still out on the aluminum artifact we suspect is the patch put on the airplane in Miami. We’re searching for better photos of the patch so we can see the rivet pattern.”

    Source: Screenshot of relevant post by Fowler.

Feb. 15, 2019 – TIGHARNews, Dispatches from TIGHAR HQ - Breakthrough, discusses TIGHAR’s acquisition of 16mm movie film taken during Earhart’s final takeoff from Lae, New Guinea, in 1937. Gillespie solicits funds from TIGHAR members to scan the brittle film to a digital format so forensic imaging expert Jeff Glickman can do a frame-by-frame comparison between the patch depicted on the film and 2-2-V-1 to verify rivet patterns.

    Source: E-mail communications forwarded to Fowler.

November 24, 2019 – Is 2-2-V-1 a Piece of the Sydney Island C-47 Wreck?, The Ghost of Gardner Island: An Assessment of the Nikumaroro Hypothesis, first of five detailed blog posts (2019-2022) on the topic by John Kada (former TIGHAR member).


Circa November 2019 – Is TIGHAR Artifact 2-2-V-1 From A DC-3?, website created by Palshaw and Kada to summarize all know facts about the artifact, which Palshaw became involved in starting in 1992. It includes a detailed analysis of the Sydney Island C-47A crash and points to how 2-2-V-1's damaged areas are consistent with that crash. Palshaw says in part, “DC-3 data is provided here so that the reader can review the data and make up their own mind. While I am supportive of TIGHAR's theory that Earhart landed on Gardner Island, I do not believe 2-2-V-1 came from a Lockheed 10."


Dec. 7, 2019 – Gillespie visits the Dover, DE, Air Force Base Air Mobility Command Museum to inspect  C-47A, serial number 42-92841 and later states that "the loss of a C-47A at Sydney Island is, without doubt, the most likely suspect” for 2-2-V-1. While admitting that more precise comparisons with contemporary C-47A wings is needed, "it was too dangerous to attempt detailed measurement of [rivet] pitch and intervals between rows" due to slippery conditions. It is unclear if this was ever done.


Dec. 17, 2019 – 2-2-V-1 wing panel comparisons, on TIGHAR discussion forums, Gillespie says, “We are comparing 2-2-V-1 to photos of the patch on AE's plane and we're finding remarkable similarities. It is virtually certain that AE's plane was once at Nikumaroro, so it's reasonably possible that part of the plane may have ended up where we found it,” indicating Glickman’s photo analysis to validate the presumed patch as part of Earhart’s aircraft is ongoing.


April 2020 – 2020 Artifact Research Fund, TIGHAR Tracks Vol. 36 No. 2, contains several articles highlighting or about 2-2-V-1, and ends with a solicitation for more research funds for the wire found entangled with the aluminum sheet, not the sheet itself, noting “Research is expensive and time consuming in the best of times …”


May 26, 2020 – Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 87, Artifact Research Update No. 2, discusses the finding of 2-2-V-1 in the former Nikumaroro village in 1991, speculates that corrosion and coral growth indicated it had been in salt water for some time, and that it was probably deposited in the village by storm surge from Cyclone Ofa in 1990. Three hypotheses for how 2-2-V-1 came to be there are listed, with No. 2 stating, “The wire and the sheet of aluminum in which it was entangled are debris from some other aircraft. The artifacts came from the ocean, not the village. Aluminum and wire do not float, so they did not come from an aircraft wreck on another island. Hypothesis No. 2 is not supported by the available evidence and can be dismissed.”


Oct. 24, 2020 – TIGHAR volunteer and forensic photo imaging expert Jeff Glickman is contacted by a longtime TIGHAR member and researcher (2), hereinafter “TIGHAR researcher,” to discuss the possibility of 2-2-V-1 being from a C-47.  Glickman responds he is “happy to do so if there is evidence suggesting a potential match.” Several other messages discuss the specific information needed to do such a comparison.

    Sources: E-mail communications forwarded to Fowler.

Oct. 27, 2020 – The TIGHAR researcher receives correspondence from Gillespie stating that he is not allowed to contact Jeff Glickman directly, and all future correspondence should be sent to Glickman via Gillespie. Glickman was not then and is not currently either an employee or board member of TIGHAR.

    Sources: E-mail communications forwarded to Fowler.

Feb. 20, 2021 – Recent Discoveries End in Disappointment and More Mysteries in Earhart Disappearance, by Larry Holzwarth, History Collection, a summary of various Nikumaroro Hypothesis evidence, includes “No. 6. The aluminum panel found by TIGHAR likely came from another airplane. During World War II, an Army Air Corps C-47B crashed near Gardner Island. Villagers on the island scavenged aluminum from the aircraft …  . In 2017, the New England Air Museum examined the rivet pattern on the piece of aluminum TIGHAR believed to have been the window cover on Amelia’s Electra. They found it to be an exact match for a wing panel on a C-47B.”


June 25, 2021 – The TIGHAR researcher, having years earlier analyzed Palshaw’s published papers and the 2017 YouTube video associated with it, asks the TIGHAR board of directors for permission to make a non-destructive 3-D template (tracing on flexible clear vinyl) of 2-2-V-1 and to verify its actual thickness via ultrasonic measurement.  The TIGHAR researcher planned to travel to the New England Air Museum to compare the tracing to the NEAM C-47B wing and other existing C-47 wings. The only publicly-available representations of 2-2-V-1 are on TIGHAR’s website – a series of one-dimensional rubbings, CAD drawings and annotated photographs. All have slightly different measurements. Gillespie agrees; efforts to set a date ensue, with May 2022 finally agreed on.

    Sources: E-mail communications forwarded to Fowler.

June 26, 2021 – 2021 Earhart-Noonan Symposium in Eugene, Oregon. Palshaw, with the assistance of Kada, presented evidence 2-2-2-V-1 was from a C-47. Gillespie attended remotely but did not comment.

    Source: E-mail communication forwarded to Fowler.

March 16, 2022 – Gillespie tells the TIGHAR researcher, “Nothing has been found to disqualify the artifact as part of the patch.”

    Source: E-mail communication forwarded to Fowler

May 2022 – The TIGHAR researcher has to cancel his May 2022 trip to TIGHAR to examine 2-2-V-1 to make a template.  In subsequent correspondence with TIGHAR, an October 2022 visit is penciled in.

    Source: E-mail communication forwarded to Fowler.

August 18, 2022 With the TIGHAR researcher’s October trip pending, TIGHAR sends Glickman to the New England Air Museum to make a detailed digital photographic analysis of the museum’s C-47B wing, first referenced by Palshaw five years earlier. This is the first time in Glickman’s many different TIGHAR research efforts over many years regarding 2-2-V-1 that he has specifically investigated the C-47 possibility.

    Source: E-mail communication forwarded to Fowler.

August 20, 2022 – Palshaw states that Glickman told him after he analyzed the C-47 wing at the New England Air Museum that 2-2-V-1 is definitely from a C-47.  Glickman subsequently notifies Gillespie of this fact. 

    Sources: E-mail communications forwarded to Fowler.

October 2022 – An Alternative Origin, TIGHAR Tracks Vol. 38 No. 3, Gillespie states, almost exactly 31 years to the day after its discovery on Nikumaroro Island, that “evidence [is] mounting that 2-2-V-1 was from an aircraft other than NR16020 [Earhart's]; they are waiting for Glickman’s report before making a formal announcement the aluminum sheet is most likely from the C-47A that crashed in 1943. A separate article states that stenciled letters and numbers visible on it “suggests the aluminum in 2-2-V-1 was not manufactured earlier than 1943,” which conflicts with earlier statements from Gillespie that the markings indicate pre-WWII origin.



Feb. 3, 2024 – Gillespie states on TIGHAR’s Facebook page that, "Yes, the aluminum panel is from a C-47. It had us and dozens of experts fooled for many years, but we eventually identified it," his first public confirmation of that fact, and some 18 months after he was told that 2-2-V-1 was definitely from a C-47.

    Source: Screenshot of relevant post by Fowler.

Summary of Missed Opportunities

1) 1992 – Consulting with a broader spectrum of aircraft and aircraft structure experts in a systematic manner would have yielded much more information to narrow down the possible donor aircraft for 2-2-V-1.

2) 1998 – Definitive information on the C-47A as a potential donor aircraft for 2-2-V-1 is not pursued in any systematic way. At least 28 of the “A” versions like the one that crashed on Sydney Island in 1943 currently exist in the US, most of which could have readily and easily been used for direct comparisons with either the actual 2-2-V-1 or a flexible template of it.

    The C-47A that Gillespie viewed in 2019 has been at that museum in Dover, Del., since 1986. TIGHAR’s then-headquarters in Wilmington, Del., was less than 50 miles away. Two other C-47As are within a day's drive of Wilmington or Oxford, Penn., (current TIGHAR location).

     Also, a longtime TIGHAR member owns a 1943-vintage DC-3C/S4C4G (civilian version of the C-47) in Indiana, but it was never used for comparison purposes.

    Sources: ; e-mail communication with Fowler.

3) May 2014 – Although the research trip to the National Museum of the US Air Force allowed TIGHAR members to closely inspect 15 WWII aircraft types that operated in the central and south Pacific (including the museum’s C-47D), none of the top wings or fuselages were inspected, a large candidate area for 2-2-V-1 to potentially be located in. This omission is not discussed in the final report, which concludes in part, “At present, of the known losses in the Central South Pacific, only Earhart’s Electra fits all of the requirements.“ (3) 

4) July 2014 – Scientific analysis shows there is no 1930s-era paint residue on 2-2-V-1. This should point to donor aircraft from a later time period, but it is not pursued in any systematic way.

5) February 2015 – A metallurgical analysis and comparison between 2-2-V-1, known 1930s Electra aircraft aluminum, and WWII aircraft aluminum strongly indicates that 2-2-V-1 is of WWII origin, but this is not pursued in any systematic way.

6) February 2015 – A TIGHAR member who had originally proposed that 2-2-V-1 was a window patch applied to Earhart’s aircraft in the United States during her second world flight attempt changed his mind upon a detailed examination of the measurements and structures that would need to be involved in such a patch. A longtime, very experienced A&P (airframe and power plant) expert, his contention is dismissed by Gillespie. Further analysis along that line of inquiry is not pursued in any systematic way.

7) July 2017 – Gillespie examines a C-47B wing at an air museum, dismisses it as close but not exact and discounts submitted photographs of a 2-2-V-1 template placed over the area in question on that same wing, which shows a very close match in the rivet lines and spacing.

    Gillespie focuses on the aluminum sheets’ thickness, stating that 2-2-V-1’s 0.032-inch thickness disqualifies the area where the museum volunteer thinks 2-2-V-1 fits. He also does not consider that the metallurgical lab measured 2-2-V-1’s thickness as 0.030 inches, or the difficulty in getting accurate and consistent skin thickness measurements on a deformed piece of aircraft aluminum using non-digital hand tools.

     Basic research in the Alcoa Aluminum archives would have found the 1939 Alclad aircraft aluminum specifications, which noted a given thickness could vary widely and still be within tolerances – which gives 2-2-V-1 a potential nominal thickness of 0.0295 – 0.0345 inches if its actual thickness is 0.032 inches, and thus many more locations on a given aircraft.

    Sources: Federal Standard Stock Catalog no. QQ-A-355, dated Dec. 7, 1939: Section IV (Part 5), Federal Specification for Aluminum Alloy (AL-24), (Aluminum-Copper-Magnesium (1.5 percent)-Manganese); Plates, Sheets and Strips. (Naval Publications and Form Center via IHS) ;

8) 2019 – Gillespie made a direct comparison with a C-47A, the same model as the one that crashed on Sydney Island, and admits that 2-2-V-1 is a very close match to an area on the upper wing, but apparently never does any detailed follow-up utilizing other existing C-47A aircraft to confirm this finding. There are at least 12 airworthy, accessible C-47As at airports and at least 16 accessible C-47As in museums in the United States, some within a day's driving distance of TIGHAR's office current office or the previous office in Delaware.


9) 2022 – It is unclear what prompted Gillespie for the first time to ask photo analyst Glickman to take a detailed look at the C-47 as a possible source for 2-2-V-1 – although the longtime TIGHAR researcher’s insistent requests to make a template of the artifact so he could do independent comparisons occurred at the same time.


For more than 30 years after TIGHAR found the artifact it labeled 2-2-V-1, the battered aluminum sheet was frequently held up (often literally) as a piece of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft. It was used numerous times to help promote fundraising efforts for more expeditions to Nikumaroro, and to promote the “Nikumaroro Hypothesis” for global fundraising and public awareness efforts on TIGHAR’s behalf (see representative photos below).

Any one of the nine missed opportunities listed above could have answered the question of what aircraft 2-2-V-1 actually came from.

Pursuing two or more of the missed opportunities to conclusion would have answered the question of 2-2-V-1’s origin. For whatever reasons, TIGHAR’s executive director, its board of directors and its membership all repeatedly failed to follow through with the accepted scientific method when new facts should have dictated new lines of inquiry.

The end result is a cautionary tale against being so wedded to one desired outcome that a person becomes blinded to all other possibilities, and ultimately ends up wasting scarce resources and valuable time while moving no closer to solving the issue at hand.

Photo Illustrations

Below are illustrations from various articles about TIGHAR, Gillespie and 2-2-V-1 through the years, illustrating how the artifact was used to promote TIGHAR's Nikumaroro Hypothesis. The first two photos are scans of pages from the 1992 Life magazine article.


Life magazine ariticle on Amelia Earhart's aircraft, page 1.        Life magazine article on Amelia Earhart's aircraft, page 2.


Ric Gillespie with Artifact 2-2-V-1.        Ric Gillespie with Artifact 2-2-V-1 and model of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra aircraft.


Ric Gillespie of TIGHAR holding Artifact 2-2-V-1, Oxford, Pennsylvania.


Artifact 2-2-V-1 displayed at TIGHAR's 75th Anniversary Amelia Earhart conference.


Penn State University researcher holding Artifact 2-2-V-1, post analysis.

Final Thought

"They are a classic illustration of what happens when a closed circle of true believers makes the facts subservient to the forgone conclusion.  Conjecture that fits the conclusion becomes fact and when facts are shown to be false they are readily explained with new layers of conjecture.  The inevitable result is an increasingly convoluted version of reality that can only survive outside the closed circle if the audience is unable or unwilling to question the foregone conclusion."

    - Ric Gillespie in 2004, speaking about the Amelia Earhart Society, another group investigating the flier's disappearance, and a frequent TIGHAR critic.

Note: As per the TIGHAR website, all information is “… provided on this web site as a matter of general interest and to aid in research by individuals. No permission to reproduce or transmit them is implied or granted.”

(1) Anonymized by previous agreement.

(2)   Anonymized by previous agreement.

(3) Full disclosure: Fowler participated in the research trip to the National Museum of the US Air Force and in the review of the final report.       


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This page was last updated Feb. 11, 2024

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