Sonar image might show Amelia Earhart’s plane

Claudine Zap

A sonar image might point to the wreckage site of Amelia Earhart's plane, the Electra, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery announced recently. The nonprofit organization has been on the hunt for the plane for the past 25 years.

"What we have is something that looks like what we think the expected wreckage should look like right in the place where we expect it to be," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director, told Yahoo News by phone. "That’s what's so enticing about this: It looks different from anything else out there."

The image was taken from a remotely operated vehicle 600 feet below the water off an uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. It shows, says the TIGHAR website, an "anomaly."

"The most prominent part of the anomaly appears to be less than 32 feet long," states TIGHAR, which also notes the plane was 38 feet 7 inches long.

Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, disappeared while attempting a circumnavigational flight around the globe in 1937. The hunt for Earhart and her Model 10 Lockheed Electra plane has been on ever since.

A decade ago, TIGHAR focused on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro as the likely spot where Earhart's plane went down, which is the area in which the possible wreckage has been spotted.

The next step is raising money—Gillespie said $3 million is needed—to further investigate the site. The group hopes to return to it in 2014.

"It’s not like 'Indiana Jones,'" said Gillespie. "You don’t part the bushes and the silver airplane is sitting there. You do the work and do the analysis. Then you go back, and sometimes it’s nothing and other times it’s what you hoped it was."