Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ocean exploration company’s possible proof of Amelia Earhart’s wrecked plane nearly vanished: report

A South Carolina-based ocean exploration company that claims it may have discovered Amelia Earhart’s plane from her ill-fated expedition in 1937, nearly had a disappearance of its own after running into a technical issue with the photographic evidence, according to reports.

Deep Sea Vision CEO Tony Romeo, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, said he believes an airplane-shaped object about 16,000 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, captured using sonar technology, is Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra.

Earhart attempted to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane when she disappeared on July 2, 1937. She was last seen in Papua New Guinea, vanished near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean and was declared dead in absentia on Jan. 5, 1939.

Romeo and his brother Lloyd released images taken with sonar technology during an $11 million expedition in the Pacific, depicting a hazy image in the shape of a plane, which they believe could be Earhart’s plane.

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Image of Earhart next to sonar picture

Deep Sea Vision believes they may have come across Amelia Earhart’s wrecked plane in the Pacific Ocean. (Bettman via Getty Images / Deep Sea Vision)

But in an interview with the Daily Mail, the brothers said the images may have never been seen because of hard drive issues they encountered during the 90-day voyage.

During the expedition, the 16-person crew launched from Tarawa, Kiribati near Howland Island in September and used an underwater drone to scan 5,200 square miles of ocean floor.

Between runs, the sonar data needed to be extracted and scanned.

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Earhart plane and Tony Romeo

Tony Romeo holds a model of Amelia Earhart’s plane, which resembles sonar images he and his crew captured with high-tech equipment. (Tony Romeo/CEO Deep Sea Vision)

Tony told the publication the hard drives seemed to be completely corrupted at one point, and they were preparing to wipe the devices and format them until the chief of operations found the data could be retrieved.

The data was retrieved, and the group saw what could be an incredible discovery.

“We realized that we had something there — an area that’s very sandy and flat, this immediately stuck out as something that was very likely an aircraft,” Romeo said to the Daily Mail.

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Amelia Earhart holding flowers on her plane

Amelia Earhart After the First Hawaii-to-California Flight, Jan. 12, 1935. She was the first pilot to succeed at flying the route.  (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Romeo’s team did not immediately respond to inquiries from Fox News Digital about nearly losing the photos.

Romeo took the findings to the Scripps Institute and the Smithsonian, which backed his belief that he found Earhart’s plane.

While Earhart’s remains or her craft were never found, endless speculation and theories that ranged from crashing on a different island to conspiracies and alien abductions have continued to make the rounds. 

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Amelia Earhart close up

Amelia Earhart was attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe successfully when she disappeared on July 2, 1937. (AP)

The most commonly accepted theory is that she ran out of fuel. 

“She would have brought it down as gently as possible on the surface of the water, and then basically tried to climb out of the hatch, which is right above the cockpit,” Romeo explained to Fox News Digital.

They found what was potentially the missing craft about 16,000 feet under the ocean. In comparison, the Titanic wreckage is about 12,500 feet underwater.

“At 16,000 feet, where we found this, the plane would likely be in very good shape and preserved very well because of the temperatures, the pH levels and the oxygen-free level in the water,” Romeo said. 

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Romeo said it’s “always possible that something weird happened,” but the Scripps Institute and the Smithsonian agree that he found the wreckage of a downed plane and, in theory, fits Earhart’s missing craft.

Romeo and his team are in the planning phase currently to return to the site to get solid confirmation that it is in fact Earhart’s plane, and he hopes to return this year.

Fox News Digital’s Chris Eberhart and Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.

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