Did a Sonar Image Finally Find Amelia Earhart's Plane?

It's been 76 years since Amelia Earhart disappeared and we're still trying to find her. Last year, a search team re-evaluated their findings and thought they might have discovered her wreckage. The same group has discovered more evidence on where her plane landed, citing the sonar image above. Have we found her at last?

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) say that the sonar image above might reveal what remains of Earhart's plane. The image was captured off an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati and show an "anomaly" at a depth of 600 feet in the waters. Discovery News writes:

According to TIGHAR researchers, the sonar image shows a strong return from a narrow object roughly 22 feet long oriented southwest/northeast on the slope near the base of an underwater cliff. Shadows indicate that the object is higher on the southwest (downhill side). A lesser return extends northeastward for about 131 feet.

There is no other sonar return like it in all of TIGHAR's data which means it's very possibly something man-made (i.e. an airplane) in an ocean of nature. Here's the full image of the sonar image from TIGHAR:

Did a Sonar Image Finally Find Amelia Earhart's Plane?

And a closer image detailing the "anomaly":

Did a Sonar Image Finally Find Amelia Earhart's Plane?

The anomaly is described as being "definitely not a rock" and shows "drag markings" meaning it hasn't reached its final resting place just yet (meaning it hasn't always been there). Even better, the anomaly in the sonar image seems to be the right size and shape of Earhart's Electra plane and fits with the debris field picture we saw last year.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, says that the evidence they have found suggests that Earhart made a safe landing on the dry reef and sent distressed signals but never heard back, eventually living life as a castaway. TIGHAR theorizes that's because her plane was knocked off its landing gear on the reef and pushed into the ocean by waves before Navy search planes came to find her. The landing gear of Earhart's plane eventually sunk into the water too (as spotted by last year's debris field picture) and then the fuselage of the plane settled into the location of the anomaly as seen in the sonar image.

That's where the search for Amelia Earhart currently stands. In order to confirm it with absolute certainty, TIGHAR would need to send another expedition onto the island that Earhart landed on. That would cost around $3,000,000 but hey, we've waited 76 years for this. [Discovery News]