Amelia Earhart
The fate of Amelia Earhart remains one of America's most baffling unsolved mysteries. Wiki Commons

The decades-long intrigue surrounding America Earhart's sudden disappearance may be coming to a close as researchers found debris they believe to be parts of her plane off Nikumaroro Island in the Southwestern Pacific.

The pieces of what appear to be Earhart's Lockheed Vega 5B monoplane appeared off the island, now part of the Republic of Kiribati, where the pioneering aviator is thought to have crashed in 1937.

Researchers for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, sent down a Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to collect multi-beam and side-scan data, and a Remote Operated Vehicle, which returned hi-definition video that appears to show debris from the plane.

The data showed something that researches believe resembles the plane's landing gear, as well as a wheel and possibly a strut. The find is smaller than researchers had hoped, but conditions were not prime for major discoveries.

"We had, of course, hoped to see large pieces of aircraft wreckage, but as soon as we saw the severe underwater environment at Nikumaroro, we knew that we would be looking for debris from an airplane that had been torn to pieces 75 years ago," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.

Earhart's mystique lies in the dueling legend of her flying prowess, as the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a solo flight in 1932, and her mysterious disappearance in 1937 while trying to circumnavigate the globe.

"I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it," she said before embarking on her last flight.