Sonar Image Could Be Amelia Earhart’s Missing Plane

A company specializing in underwater exploration believes they may have found Amelia Earhart’s missing plane.

Earhart, a pioneering aviator, went missing in 1937 while attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the Earth by plane. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific. The pair had aimed to land on tiny Howland Island where they needed to refuel. But they never arrived.

A three-month search

Between September and December last year, a company called Deep Sea Vision searched 5,000 square kilometers of the Pacific for Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10-E Electra plane. Using an autonomous underwater submersible equipped with sonar sensors, the company captured an image that company founder Tony Romeo seems sure is Earhart’s plane.

“You’d be hard-pressed to convince me it’s not the plane,” Romeo told The Washington Post.

The image (at the top of the page) shows something resting about three miles underwater somewhere within a 100-mile radius of Howland Island. The company has not released a precise location.

Squint and the object certainly appears plane-shaped, but confirming the find will require Deep Sea Vision to return and investigate the object, perhaps using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

Amelia Earhart in Department of Commerce airplane.

Amelia Earhart in a Department of Commerce plane. Photo: Shutterstock


“They need to go back”

Romeo, a pilot and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, was in South Carolina real estate before he sold up to fund his search for Earhart’s plane. His fixation on finding this particular wreck could cloud his judgment. Experts certainly don’t sound as convinced.

“While it is possible that this could be a plane and maybe even Amelia’s plane, it is too premature to say that definitively. It could also be noise in the sonar data, something geologic, or some other plane,” underwater archaeologist Andrew Pietruszka explained to CNN.

“It’s hard to say what it is,” Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum told The Washington Post. “They need to go back.”

Romeo hopes the company will return to the site within the next year. If he could find the “NR16020” certification printed on the underside of the missing Lockheed’s wing, he’d open a new chapter in the 85-year mystery.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.