LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)-- Her flight around the globe captivated the world, ending in a mystery that's stumped investigators for more than 80 years. What happened to Amelia Earhart?

"No one has been able to find any clear proof of what happened," said Dr. Renato LaRocca, who spends his days at the Norton Cancer Institute diagnosing and treating high-grade brain tumors. Now he's using his diagnostic skills to help solve the ultimate cliffhanger.

Last summer, Dr. LaRocca was part of a group of about 40 people lead by the the international group for historic aircraft recovery or TIGHAR. The group headed to Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island 1,500 miles north of Fiji. It's there, where they believe Earhart's voyage ended.

"Amelia Earhart did not perish in the ocean. She landed on an island about 300 miles south of the island she was supposed to land on," said Dr. LaRocca.

For five days, the team made up of researchers and climatologists scoured the island for clues. Some searched for bone fragments, a part of their theory based on a skeleton found on the island just a few years after Earhart vanished.

"A British solider lands there. He writes could this be Amelia Earhart? The bones get sent back to Fiji," said Dr. LaRocca. "Those bones get lost but that was one of the big stories."

Trained scuba divers checked the coral reef for aircraft debris after a large metal piece was spotted during a former expedition.

"It looks strikingly like an upside down landing gear sticking out of the water," he said.

LaRocca's small group headed to the part of the island where they believe Earhart may have landed.

"There is this 300 foot wide 1,500 foot long perfectly flat that you can actually land an airplane on," he said.

As he poked around the area, LaRocca says he found a previously discovered "Camp Zero" where the theory hypothesizes Earhart and her navigator may have survived briefly.

"I went in there and boom there's an opening about as big as this room," said Dr. LaRocca.

Over the years, many theories have emerged but Dr. LaRocca says the same evidence-based approach he uses for treating patients drew him to TIGHAR's thesis.

"It's deductive reasoning. You have pieces of information, you're trying to put together a story," he said.

While the mystery remains unsolved, LaRocca believes they're on the right track.

"This is our theory. This is not proof but there's a lot of very very interesting circumstantial evidence in that regard," he said.

Dr. LaRocca hopes to return to the island to continue the search in 2019 or 2020.

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