The Wreckage of Amelia Earhart's Plane May Have Been Discovered 87 Years Later

A grainy sonar image may indicate exactly where the legendary pilot met her end.


Apr. 3 2024, Published 5:16 p.m. ET

Amelia Earhart sitting on a plane and smiling.
Source: Getty Images

When she disappeared in 1937, Amelia Earhart was among the most famous pilots in the world. Of course, in the decades since her disappearance, Amelia's legend has only continued to grow. Now, 87 years after her disappearance, it seems possible that she has finally been found.

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Following the news that Amelia's wreckage may finally have been discovered, plenty of new questions surfaced about what happened to her, and whether she has really been found. Here's what we know about whether her wreckage has actually been discovered.

A sonar image of what might be Amelia Earhart's plane.
Source: Reuters

A sonar image of what might be Amelia Earhart's plane.

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Was Amelia Earhart found?

Deep sea exploration company Deep Sea Vision claims that they have found the wreckage of Amelia Earhart's plane.

"She's America's favourite missing person … she was a fantastic person, a pioneer in the aviation field, an early advocate for women's rights and a terrific author," Tony Romeo, the company's CEO, said during a January 2024 interview with Reuters. "And so, if we can help bring closure to this story and bring Amelia home, we'd be super excited."

Amelia became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932, and was a widely known pilot until her disappearance. She went missing during an attempt at a round-the-world flight, and specifically during a hop from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean. No trace of Amelia, her navigator Fred Noonan, or the plane they were flying has been found ever since.

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In order to determine where she might have crashed, Tony said that they tracked Amelia's flight path and altitude, the flying conditions on that day, and the radio calls that she made during the flight in which she indicated that she was running low on fuel.

"Each one of those radio calls gives us a really important clue as to what she was doing and what she was thinking, her intentions," he explained.

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Using that information, the company spent three months combing a massive area of the ocean floor with advanced deep sea equipment. Now, they've produced a sonar image result that is miles below the surface of the ocean. It resembles the shape of Amelia's plane.

"The twin vertical stabilizers in the back are very clear on the sonar image, and those are very distinctive of Amelia Earhart's aircraft," he said.

The image may be intriguing, but until a more thorough effort is made to find the sunk vessel, the mystery has not yet been solved. Tony's team is reportedly planning to return to the area to do a more thorough expedition, but he warned that the expedition would be logistically challenging, and could take several years to pull off.

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While there have been plenty of theories around what happened to Amelia, the likeliest explanation is that she crashed while attempting to find a relatively tiny island, and died as a result.

It may be fun to speculate about the mystery, but it seems like that speculation may soon come to a more definitive ending. If Tony's timeline is to be believed, though, you have at least a couple more years to offer wild theories.

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