CHARLESTON (AP) – American explorer Tony Romero suspects that the wreckage of the plane of famous aviator Amelia Earhart, who disappeared nine decades ago, lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. According to Romeo, a former US Air Force intelligence officer, the wreckage lies more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep on the ocean floor, roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
Earhart became the first woman and second person to fly solo, non-stop, across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, five years after Charles Lindbergh accomplished the feat. She was trying to fly around the world with navigator Fred Noonan when she lost her plane over the Pacific Ocean. If successful, she would have been the first female pilot to do so.
Romeo's private exploration company, Deep Sea Vision, tracked the wreckage using sonar data from a deep-sea drone. He said somewhat blurry sonar images taken by the drone showed an airplane-like shape on the flat, sandy ocean floor.
The 16-person Deep Sea Vision crew searched more than 13,400 square kilometers for 100 days at the end of last year. Romeo said the footage showed a plane about the same size as Earhart's Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. He said the photo appeared to show a distinctive feature of the plane: the twin vertical stabilizers on the tail.
Romeo plans to launch a mission later this year or next to find the long-lost plane, which a large-scale US search failed to do in 1937. “The first step is to confirm the drone footage,” he added. “The next step, if possible, will be to raise the wreckage to the surface and recover it.”
The importance of such a task speaks for itself in relation to Romeo. “She's the most famous missing person in America, right? As long as she's missing, there will always be someone looking for her,” Romeo said. “If we can help bring this story to a close and bring Amelia home, we will be very excited.”
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