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Huge breakthrough in search for Amelia Earhart’s missing plane as downed plane appears on ocean floor in new SONAR image: Experts ‘impressed’ with compelling clue 87 years after her mysterious disappearance

A South Carolina man believes he may have discovered the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

Former US Air Force intelligence officer Tony Romeo turns his fascination with the legendary pilot into an adventure when he embarks on an ambitious search for Earhart’s lost plane.

Romeo, who sold his commercial real estate investments to fund his search, managed to capture a sonar image of an airplane-shaped object on the ocean floor in December.

Earhart and her Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared at the height of fame, a mystery that spawned decades of searches and conspiracy theories.

Earhart’s record-breaking ride as a pioneering female aviator at the very dawn of the aviation age made her an international celebrity.

Earhart and her Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared at the height of fame

Romeo, who sold his commercial real estate investments to fund his search, managed to capture a sonar image of an airplane-shaped object on the ocean floor in December.

Romeo spent $11 million to finance the trip and buy high-tech equipment needed for the search, including the «Hugin» underwater drone made by Norwegian company Kongsberg.

The expedition took off in early September from Tarawa, Kiribati, a port near Howland Island. Nikumaroro Island – then called Gardner Island – is about 400 miles southeast of Howland Island

She became the first woman to fly solo, non-stop across the continental US and the Atlantic, and the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the mainland across the Pacific.

«This is possibly the most exciting thing I’ll ever do in my life,» Romeo told the Wall Street Journal.

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«I feel like a 10-year-old kid on a treasure hunt.»

“For her to be lost was just unthinkable,” said Romeo.

He adds: «Imagine if Taylor Swift just disappeared today.»

Romeo spent $11 million to fund the trip and buy high-tech equipment needed for the search, including the ‘Hugin’ underwater drone made by Norwegian company Kongsberg.

The expedition set off in early September from Tarawa, Kiribati, a port near Howland Island, with a crew of 16 aboard a research vessel.

On trips that lasted 36 hours each, the unmanned submarine scanned 5,200 square miles of the ocean floor.

Earhart’s disappearance is a mystery that has spawned decades of searches and conspiracy theories

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida on a round-the-world flight. They disappeared after a stop at Lae, New Guinea on June 29, 1937, with only 7,000 miles to go.

Experts are not ready to make a definitive call on the find and have asked for clearer images with details such as a serial number that matches Earhart’s plane.

Finally, about a month into the search, he took a blurry sonar image of an object the size and shape of an airplane resting about 5,000 meters underwater within 100 miles of Howland Island.

However, the image went unnoticed until the team found it while scanning the data, approximately 90 days into the trip.

Romeo is now planning a return exhibition to get better pictures of the mysterious object.

Some experts were intrigued by Romeo’s discovery, including Dorothy Cochrane, curator of the aviation department at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

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Cochrane told the Journal that the location of the sonar image roughly matches where experts believe Earhart may have crashed.

However, experts are not ready to definitively label the find and have asked for clearer images with details such as a serial number that matches Earhart’s plane.

«Until you physically look at it, there’s no way to say for sure what it is,» Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the paper.

Romeo is not the first to go on road trips in an attempt to find a lost plane, half a dozen adventurers and enthusiasts have spent millions on the unsolved mystery.

Expeditions were launched in 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2017.

The Wall Street Journal estimated that the missions cost a total of at least $13 million, adjusted for inflation.

«It’s the only thing in my career that I’ve ever looked for and not found,» said Tom Dettweiler, a sonar expert who participated in two searches and was part of the team that found the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. Canada, in 1985.

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