This Sonar Splotch Could Be Amelia Earhart’s Lost Plane

This Sonar Splotch Could Be Amelia Earhart’s Lost Plane

Amelia Earhart was declared dead in January of 1939, two years after her around-the-world flight in her Lockheed Electra 10E Special ended in an unsolved disappearance. Earhart was the world’s most accomplished and famed female pilot in 1937, and her ill-fated flight is still the kind of thing that haunts a person. Real-estate investor and pilot Tony Romeo spent around $US11 million on an expedition to uncover the whereabouts of Earhart’s lost plane, and after a 100-day voyage covering 5,200 square miles of ocean floor, he believes he has found it at last.

“This has been a story that’s always intrigued me, and all the things in my life kind of collided at the right moment,” Romeo told Business Insider. “I was getting out of real estate and looking for a new project so even though I really started about 18 months ago, this was something I’ve been thinking and researching for a long time.”

About a month into the trip, the ship’s sonar submersible captured an image of a plane-shaped object—pictured above—near Howland Island (just slightly north of the equator and east of the international date line), an uninhabited coral atoll smack in the middle of the Pacific. This more or less tracks with Earhart’s presumed flight path, as she was heading from Lae, Papua New Guinea to Oakland, California—with refuelling stops on Howland Island and Honolulu—when she disappeared.

There’s no way to confirm that the plane is Earhart’s right now, and additional expeditions will be mounted in the future to recover the craft and confirm its true history. Romeo is confident that the plane belongs to the famed missing aviatrix, as the scans show something of roughly the correct size and shape. It is always possible that the scan is a different non-famous lost aircraft, or some other human-made object that fell off one of the thousands of container ships travelling through the area.

In 1991, researchers located a piece of aluminium which they believed “with a high degree of certainty,” came from Earhart’s plane. Some believe that Earhart and her navigator managed to land the plane and became castaways on one of the many lonesome atolls that dot the vast Pacific Ocean. Indeed the aluminum piece of Earhart’s plane was found on an uninhabited atoll called Nikumaroro not too terribly far from where Romeo found this underwater blip.

Romeo has an interest in confirming the plane’s origin, and will mount another expedition later this year to do some more scanning and photographing. He hopes to one day see the plane interred at the Smithsonian.

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