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Amelia Earhart's Lost Plane Spotted in a 1936 Film

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YouTube // TIGHAR

Amelia Earhart and her twin-engine Lockheed Electra disappeared on July 2, 1937. Now, nearly 80 years later, Discovery News reports that the plane has been rediscovered—in a 1936 film cameo.

The MGM romantic comedy Love on the Run, starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, features spies, a runaway bride, and an undercover reporter. The film also contains a scene in which Gable and Crawford don flying suit disguises and make a great escape in an airplane, to much comedic effect. The actual flying stunts were performed by pilot Paul Mantz, who was Earhart’s technical advisor. It’s the flyer's only appearance in the movie; in other shots, a scale model was used.

The scene was shot eight months before the plane’s final flight over the Pacific Ocean. Not long after its stint in Hollywood, the Lockheed Electra was delivered to Earhart for her 39th birthday. It’s unknown whether she was aware of its role in the movie.

The cameo was recently uncovered by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), a group dedicated to investigating Earhart’s disappearance.

In the clip of the scene below, you can see the registration number R1602 on the right wing of the aircraft at around the 1:08 minute mark. The quick appearance is how the plane was spotted and identified.

While this discovery is an exciting one for Earhart biographers and researchers, the hunt for the actual plane is still underway to this day. Next summer, a new expedition called Niku IX will send two submersibles to comb a one-mile-long stretch off the coast of an island called Nikumaroro.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News: "An abundance of archival, photographic and artifact evidence suggests that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan made a successful landing on the island's fringing reef.”

Gillespie believes the pair died on the uninhabited, waterless atoll and that the plane was washed out to sea. The teams—with the help of technology like high definition cameras, mechanical arms, and lights—will search for plane fragments in the area as deep as 6500 feet. Niku IX will be the group’s 12th search around Nikumaroro.

[h/t LiveScience]

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History
When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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History
How the Wright Brothers' Plane Compares to the World's Largest Aircraft
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The Wright brothers famously built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, controllable aircraft. But while the siblings revolutionized the field of aviation, their early plane looks tiny—and dare we say quaint-looking—when compared to the aerial giants that came after it.

In Tech Insider’s video below, you can see how the Wright brothers’ flyer stacks up against the scale of other aircrafts. You'll notice that size doesn't always guarantee a successful journey. The Hughes H-4 Hercules—the largest flying boat ever made—never made it past the prototype stage, performing only one brief flight in 1947. And the Hindenburg, which was 804 feet long and could fit 80 Olympic swimming pools, famously exploded on May 6, 1937.

Today’s longest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which measures 251 feet from nose to tail. While slightly shorter (238 feet), the Airbus A380 is certified to hold more people than any other plane in the air—a total of 850 passengers. That record won't last long, though: In a few years, the Stratolaunch carrier—the widest aircraft ever built—will dwarf its contemporaries when it takes to the skies in 2019. Built to launch rockets into orbit, its wingspan is about the size of a football field, even bigger than that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Still, what the Wright brothers’ plane lacked in size, it made up for in ingenuity. Without it, these other giants may never have existed.

[h/t: Tech Insider]

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