An ocean exploration company claims to have found Amelia Earhart’s missing plane— a potential lead in the decades-long mystery over the legendary pilot’s disappearance.
A 16-person team led by Deep Sea Vision, a company in South Carolina, used an unmanned, underwater drone to scan more than 5,200 square miles of ocean floor between September and December of 2023. Sonar data reviewed in December revealed an image that the company’s founder, Tony Romeo, believes is Earhart’s plane, Lockheed 10-E Electra, that she was flying when she went missing in 1937. The key reason Romeo believes its Earhart’s is its unique shape.
“Well you’d be hard pressed to convince me that’s anything but an aircraft, for one, and two, that it’s not Amelia’s aircraft,” Romeo, a pilot and a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, told NBC's "TODAY" show on Monday. “There’s no other known crashes in the area, and certainly not of that era in that kind of design with the tail that you see clearly in the image,” he added.
Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, went missing as she embarked on a quest to become the first female pilot to circle the globe. The two were expected to land on Howland Island, between Australia and Hawaii, to refuel but never arrived. Decades later, neither their bodies nor the plane were ever found, birthing countless theories about her disappearance
Experts say that, until more clearer images are available, it’s impossible to know for certain if the object pictured is Earhart’s plane.
“Until you physically take a look at this, there’s no way to say for sure what that is,” Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, told the Wall Street Journal. Over the years, many explorers have embarked on costly and unsuccessful expeditions to find Earhart’s plane. In 1999, Dana Timmer, a pilot and America’s Cup sailor, led a $1 million deep-sea search for the plane. He believed that sonar images already showed probable locations for the plane, but was unable to raise the funds to return to the region and confirm. Another ocean exploration firm, Nauticos, conducted expeditions in 2002, 2005, and 2017 that mostly turned up shipping trash.
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