Amelia Earhart’s plane may have been found on ocean floor, explorer claims

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Has Amelia Earhart’s plane been found on the ocean floor?
WATCH: Has Amelia Earhart’s plane been found on the ocean floor? – Jan 30, 2024

It’s been more than 86 years since Amelia Earhart‘s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in the summer of 1937 — but now, a hopeful explorer believes he may have solved the famous mystery.

Tony Romeo, CEO of Deep Sea Vision, announced this week that he and his 16-member team have potentially located the wreckage of Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra aircraft at the bottom of the Pacific.

Romeo, who is a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, shared sonar images of a plane-shaped object that was captured as part of Deep Sea Vision’s US$11-million quest to solve the Earhart mystery.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Romeo said the company’s underwater “Hugin” submersible captured the sonar image of the plane-like object, which sits about 16,000 feet (nearly 4,877 metres) below the ocean’s surface.

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(For reference, the Titanic wreck lies at a depth of about 12,500 feet, or almost 3,658 metres.)

The sonar image was taken less than 100 miles (about 161 kilometres) from Howland Island, the refuelling location Earheart never reached.

Deep Sea Vision said it has scanned more than 5,200 square miles of the ocean floor since September 2023.

The company used its submersible and an “advanced underwater drone” during the search for Earhart’s plane.

Romeo told the WSJ he funded Deep Sea Vision’s expedition by selling off his commercial real estate business. He called the search for Earhart’s plane “maybe the most exciting thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

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“I feel like a ten-year-old going on a treasure hunt,” Romeo gushed to the outlet.

With what he now believes to be a promising lead, Romeo said he and his team would try to capture better sonar images of the object that may or may not be Earhart’s plane.

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A number of aviation enthusiasts and internet sleuths have cast doubt on Romeo’s claims about finding Earhart’s plane.

In response to Deep Sea Vision’s sonar images, many questioned how Earhart’s plane could have remained in presumably such good condition after nearly 90 years deep underwater.

Other skeptics pointed to the wings of the object in the sonar images, which are angled toward the back of the would-be plane, as potential proof that this is not Earhart’s aircraft. Her Lockheed 10-E Electra had straight wings that, according to an email from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, would not have been able to fold rearward without crushing the plane’s midsection.

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Romeo dismissed this argument about rear facing wings to National Geographic, claiming the use of his team’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) caused visible distortion in the water. He pointed to the twin fins on the back of the object in the sonar image, which he said is “very distinctive” of Earhart’s plane.

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra aircraft as it took off from Oakland Airport in California on the first leg of her proposed world spanning flight. Bettman via Getty Images

For now, it is still too early to determine if the object captured in the Deep Sea Vision sonar image is in fact Earhart’s plane.

Who was Amelia Earhart?

Earhart, who was 39 at the time of her disappearance, is an iconic feminist figure who helped pave the way for women to enter the aviation industry.

In 1937, Earhart hoped to be the first woman to ever fly around the world — though she’d never complete the mission. She was accompanied by navigator Fred Noonan, who also disappeared without a trace.

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Though Earhart’s flight to circumnavigate the globe failed, she holds several aviation records, including being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Earhart and Noonan were declared dead in absentia in January 1939.

Romeo is not the first explorer to ever search for Earhart and her plane. In the decades since her disappearance, numerous deep-sea expeditions have searched for Earhart’s plane to no avail.

In 2018, forensic analysts strongly suggested that a group of bones found on the remote Pacific island of Nikumaroro belonged to Earhart. The bones, which were first discovered in 1940 and later lost, had initially been presumed male, though modern analysis of the bone’s measurements found the remains to be that of a female; one who had body measurements consistent with Earhart. DNA testing was not possible.

Earhart’s disappearance remains one of the most popular unsolved mysteries of the 20th century and continues to fascinate curious explorers like Romeo to this day.

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