Research team says it found Amelia Earhart's long-lost plane: NPR

The object observed in the Pacific Ocean by deep-water equipment is consistent with the size and shape of Earhart's plane.

Deep sea vision

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Deep sea vision

The object observed in the Pacific Ocean by deep-water equipment is consistent with the size and shape of Earhart's plane.

Deep sea vision

New clues have emerged in what is one of the greatest mysteries of all time: the disappearance of legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart.

Deep Sea Vision, an oceanographic company based in South Carolina, announced Saturday that it had captured compelling sonar images of what appeared to be Earhart's plane on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery was made possible by a high-tech unmanned underwater drone and a 16-person crew that surveyed more than 5,200 square miles of the ocean floor between September and December.

The team spotted the plane-shaped object about 100 miles from Howland Island, between Australia and Hawaii, where Earhart and his navigator, Fred Noonan, were supposed to refuel but never did.

The shape of the object in the sonar images closely resembles Earhart's plane, a Lockheed Electra, both in size and tail. Deep Sea Vision founder Tony Romeo said he was confident in their findings.

“All in all, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that this wasn't a plane, not Amelia's,” he said.

The Deep Sea Vision team plans to survey the area where the images were taken sometime this year, Romeo added.

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Earhart and Noonan disappeared in 1937 while on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. This trip would have made Earhart the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe.

Nearly a century later, neither their bodies nor their plane have been definitively recovered – making it one of the greatest mysteries of all time and spawning countless theories about what happened.

Romeo, a pilot and former US Air Force intelligence officer, sold his real estate holdings in 2022 and started an ocean exploration business.

His crew spent a month taking sonar images, but didn't realize what they had found until the last day of their trip.

“It was a really surreal moment,” Romeo said.

The possibility that Earhart's plane rested on the ocean floor supports the popular theory that the plane ran out of fuel and sank. But others believe she and Noonan landed on an island and starved to death. Some believe both crashed and were captured by Japanese forces as they expanded their presence in the region leading to World War II.

“I love everything everyone contributed to the story, I think it's great. It adds to the legacy of Amelia Earhart,” Romeo said. “But ultimately, I think what matters is that she's a good pilot.”

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