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A pilot and explorer who embarked on an $11 million-expedition at sea believes he has solved one of the world’s greatest mysteries: the final resting place of Amelia Earhart’s plane that vanished in 1937.
Tony Romeo, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer and CEO of Deep Sea Vision, sold commercial real estate to fund his deep-sea exploration of the Pacific Ocean last year, combing the ocean floor with sonar technology in the suspected area of Earhart’s crash.
His team reviewed sonar data in December caught by an under-water drone from his research voyage and found a startling image: a blurry plane-like shape Romeo believes is Earhart’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, were expected to land there in July 1937 for a refueling stop in her bid to be the first female pilot to circumvent the globe — but never made it.
She was declared dead two years later after the U.S. concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and her remains were never found.
Romeo believes the image, while blurry, is Earhart’s aircraft, given its unique shape.
“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 told NBC’s “TODAY” show in an interview that aired Monday.
“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,” he added.
While it’s too soon to determine if it’s indeed the long-lost aircraft, it’s an exciting prospect.
Romeo’s team plans to return to the site later this year or early next year with a camera and remote operated vehicle to snap better images of the possible wreckage 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.
And returning is no easy, or cheap, feat as the voyage requires expensive, high tech gear. In Romeo’s voyage they used an underwater “Hugin” drone manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In his last voyage, the expedition used an unmanned submersible to scan 5,200 square miles of ocean floor. The image of the suspected plane was found resting some 5,000 meters underwater, WSJ reported.
“I think myself, that it is the great mystery of all time,” Romeo said. “Certainly the most enduring aviation mystery of all time.”