(CNN) – The search for the most famous female aviator is raging on more than.
Now one researcher says a sonar image from the bottom of the Pacific could hold another clue.
Brian Todd has more.
A man who’s been chasing the mystery of Amelia Earhart for a quarter-century… Believes this grainy, almost-pixillated-looking image from the ocean floor- may bring us closer to finding her.
Ric Gillespie, The Intl. Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery: “It’s unlike anything else on that whole reef that shows up in the sonar imagery.”
Ric Gillespie’s with the international group for historic aircraft recovery.
With a roving submersible, his team captured this: a sonar image.
He says this anomaly on an ocean-shelf off the coast of the pacific island of Nikumaroro– could be the remnants of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane.
On July 2nd, 1937- Amelia Earhart- attempting to become the first person to fly around the globe at the equator– vanished off Howland Island: the last place her monitors had contact with her.
Not a trace of Earhart or her plane has ever been found.
For years, Gillespie and his team have believed her plane actually went down off Nikumaroro– about 300-miles southeast of Howland.
I held a rendering of what the split-up fuselage might look like- against Gillespie’s new image.
Brian: “Why do you think the anomaly on the ocean floor matches the fuselage of Earhart’s plane?”
Gillespie: “We know how a Lockheed Electra breaks up in a crash. We’ve studied other crashes. And we know that the center section of the airplane is the strongest part- the part that holds together. Engines tend to come off. The other wings come off. The fuselage breaks behind the wing. So the size of the anomaly image matches the part of an Electra that hangs together the best.”
Gillespie admits there’s a chance this isn’t Earhart’s plane.
Still, he’s trying to raise 3-million dollars for an expedition to Nikumaroro next year.
“But there are plenty of skeptics of Gillespie’s latest theory- and of his work overall. The skeptics believe he’s attached himself to the idea that the remains of Earhart’s plane are off Nikumaroro. And they believe he’s flat wrong.”
One skeptic: Dorothy Cochran, curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
“There’s nothing that says this was part of Earhart’s equipment. This- there’s nothing that has a number, a designation that would indicate it was part of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft. There’s nothing that can only be traced to Amelia Earhart.”
Brian Cochrane points out, Gillespie’s launched other expeditions to Nikumaroro that have dug up human bones, items common to that era- but that he’s never found proof that Amelia Earhart’s there.
Cochrane and other historians believe Earhart’s remains are somewhere near Howland Island, she says that’s based on Earhart’s radio transmissions, and the fact that she was circling close to Howland Island when she disappeared.