Grainy Sonar Image Could Be Groundbreaking Find in Amelia Earhart Disappearance

Grainy Sonar Image Could Be Groundbreaking Find in Amelia Earhart Disappearance

CORRECTION, Feb. 5, 2024: The last name of famed pilot Amelia Earhart was misspelled in one instance in an earlier version of this story.

A South Carolina man believes his hunt for the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane has paid off.

Tony Romeo, a real estate investor from Charleston who has sunk about $11 million of his money into the hunt for Earhart’s aircraft, is sharing with the world a sonar image that appears to be a plane resting on the ocean floor, 5,000 meters below the surface, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Romeo, CEO of Deep Sea Vision, said he believes the image is that of the Lockheed 10-E Electra plane Earhart was flying when she vanished in 1937.

“This is maybe the most exciting thing I’ll ever do in my life,” he said. “I feel like a 10-year-old going on a treasure hunt.”

Earhart was a precedent-shattering pilot and a global celebrity when she took off from Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937, along with navigator Fred Noonan. They were never seen again.

Her next stop was supposed to be Howland Island, a dot in the central Pacific Ocean, but she never reached it. Theories have raged that she was captured by the Japanese or died on a Pacific island, but there has been no proof, as noted by the BBC.

“For her to go missing was just unthinkable,” Romeo told the Journal. “Imagine Taylor Swift just disappearing today.”

Romeo is a pilot and former Air Force intelligence officer who hopes to succeed where others have failed.

A 1999 search near Howland Island offered a tantalizing image, but there was no money for a follow-up trip. Searches in 2002, 2006 and 2017 also came up empty.

Romeo said he and two brothers who are also pilots tried to reconstruct Earhart’s course and fuel levels to guess where the plane went down.

Dorothy Cochrane, a curator in the aeronautics department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, said he appears to be searching in the right place.

“It was one of the great mysteries of the 20th century and still now into the 21st century,” Cochrane said. “We’re all hopeful that the mystery will be solved.”

The Journal reported that sonar experts are not certain the image is that of a plane.

“Until you physically take a look at this, there’s no way to say for sure what that is,” said Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

But Romeo said he was positive.

“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,” he said, according to NBC News.

“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,” Romeo said.

He said he hoped to return later this year or early next year to get better images of the site.

“The next step is confirmation, and there’s a lot we need to know about it. And it looks like there’s some damage. I mean, it’s been sitting there for 87 years at this point,” Romeo said.

According to USA Today, the search began in early September from Tarawa, Kiribati. About 30 days later, the image was taken — but it was not discovered until 90 days into the expedition, which meant the team was unable to turn back to investigate it.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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