A pilot and explorer believes he has solved one of aviation’s greatest mysteries and discovered the location of Amelia Earhart’s plane.
Tony Romeo, a former Air Force intelligence officer and the CEO of Deep Sea Vision, sold commercial real estate to fund his deep-sea search of the Pacific last year.
He combed the ocean floor with sonar technology in the suspected area of Earhart’s crash in a bid to find the aircraft, which vanished in 1937.
His team reviewed sonar data in December caught by an underwater drone from the research voyage and found an image of a blurry, plane-like shape Mr Romeo believes is the lost aviator’s twin engine Lockheed 10-E Electra.
The image was taken about 100 miles from Howland Island, halfway between Australia and Hawaii.
Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, had been expected to land there in July 1937 to refuel during her bid to be the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe.
But they never arrived and were declared dead two years later, after the US concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and her remains were never found.
Mr Romeo is adamant the plane he has found is Earhart’s, despite the blurry quality of the photograph, telling Sky News sister station NBC News: “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.
“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.”
Mr Romeo’s team plan to return to the site this year or early next year with a camera and a drone to investigate further.
“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,” he said.
In his last voyage, the team used an unmanned submersible to scan 5,200 square miles of ocean floor.
The image of the suspected plane was found resting 5,000m underwater, according to the Wall St Journal.
“I think myself that it is the great mystery of all time,” Mr Romeo said. “Certainly the most enduring aviation mystery of all time.”