TAMPA, Fla. – An exploration team has uncovered a sonar image in the Pacific Ocean that has sparked renewed interest in the legendary disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her flight navigator, Fred Noonan. Tony Romeo, founder and CEO of Deep Sea Visions, and his brother Lloyd Romeo, project manager, are the South Carolina-based exploration team behind this discovery.
In 1937, Earhart and Noonan departed from Miami in a Lockheed Electra 10-E plane with the goal of completing Earhart’s historic journey as the first woman to fly around the world. However, the duo lost radio contact near the Howland Islands, approximately 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, with just 7,000 miles remaining on their trip. Despite extensive searches, neither Earhart, Noonan, nor their plane were ever found.
Romeo and his 16-person crew at Deep Sea Visions have scanned over 5,200 square miles of the ocean floor near Howland Island during a roughly 100-day search to locate any trace of Earhart’s plane, a Lockheed 10-E Electra aircraft. The recent release of the sonar image captured in the Pacific Ocean, which appears to show a plane, has reignited speculation about the fate of Earhart and Noonan. However, Tony Romeo is cautious, noting that the finding “isn’t conclusive yet by any means.” Despite this, the team plans to continue searching.
The next step for Deep Sea Visions involves deploying a camera underwater to obtain better visual evidence of the unidentified object. If the visuals confirm the team’s suspicions, the goal will be to raise the long-lost Electra from the seabed. Potential challenges such as the condition of the aircraft, corrosion concerns, and the complex issue of ownership have been identified as important factors to consider. Ole Varmer, a senior fellow at The Ocean Foundation, noted that international standards for underwater archaeology would strongly suggest leaving the aircraft undisturbed if it is indeed located.
The team has been in contact with Earhart’s family, inviting them to participate in identifying the plane and discussing the possibility of conducting nonintrusive research to understand why the plane possibly crashed. Additionally, there are discussions about where the plane could potentially be placed if it is indeed extricated from the ocean.
Meanwhile, the cost of salvaging and preserving the plane, potential legal hurdles, and determining ownership rights are challenges that Deep Sea Visions must navigate as they move forward. Ultimately, the team is hopeful to make an announcement before the year’s end, as they continue their quest to solve one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.