On July 2, 1937, while attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, Amelia Earhart's plane disappeared somewhere between Lae, New Guinea, her last known location, and Howland Island where she was headed next. And thus started a mystery that has never properly been answered.
Despite an initial 16-day search involving 66 aircraft and four boats, as well as plenty of unofficial searches since, the experienced pilot and her navigator, Fred Noonan, have never been found. Theories on her disappearance range from the obvious (her plane crashed and sank) to the not-so-obvious (she was eaten by giant crabs), and even suggest she survived on a nearby island. One such conspiracy claims that she became captured by Japanese forces, before being freed and taken home to the US where she became one "Irene Bolam", despite Bolam already existing long before Earhart's disappearance.
After 87 years, an explanation seems unlikely. However, one former US Air Force pilot and intelligence officer believes he may have found her plane. Tony Romeo funded an $11 million search for Earhart by selling off his real estate business and began scanning the ocean floor using sonar back in September 2023.
The search appears to have paid off, as Romeo now claims to have found sonar evidence of "what appears to be Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra" plane.
The image, captured by a submersible, was found 4,900 meters (16,000 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the coast of Howland Island, her next scheduled stop. The team did not initially notice the potential plane but now intends to return to the site to investigate further.
"This is maybe the most exciting thing I'll ever do in my life," Romeo told the Wall Street Journal. "I feel like a 10-year-old going on a treasure hunt."
After all this time it seems unlikely that we may finally have an explanation. But who knows, stranger things have happened.