Amelia Earhart’s family break silence on sonar images believed to be wreckage of pilot’s plane

Staff writers
The Nightly
2 Min Read
New sonar images could be the key to the 86-year search for Amelia Earhart's missing aircraft.
New sonar images could be the key to the 86-year search for Amelia Earhart's missing aircraft. Credit: AP/Digitally altered image/The Nightly

Amelia Earhart’s family have responded to the possible discovery of her plane’s wreckage, with the long-lost pilot’s great-nephew revealing that they wanted her doomed aircraft donated to the Smithsonian museum in Washington.

The comments came a week after a robotics company involved announced a breakthrough in the search for the twin engine Lockheed Electra which Earhart and her navigator were last seen in before taking off on their ill-fated 1937 flight.

The company, Deep Sea Vision, reached sonar images of what it believes is the plane’s wreckage, captured by a submersible in a remote part of the Pacific.

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Earhart’s great-nephew, whose mother, aged 92, is one of the last remaining relatives who personally knew the legendary aviator, told The Times that the family would like to see her remains returned and buried in the town where she was born, Atchison, Kansas.

“With luck, it will end up in a place where anyone who’s interested can go and spend some time with it,” Bram Kleppner said.

Bram Kleppner is the great-nephew of Amelia Earhart
Bram Kleppner is the great-nephew of Amelia Earhart Credit: CMG Speaks/CMG

He also hoped the new sonar images, captured at a depth of 16,000 feet at a secret location somewhere in a 100-mile radius around remote Howland Island, could solve the mystery of the Electra’s final resting place, in the hopes it could be salvaged and donated to the Smithsonian.

However, it’s still uncertain whether the family will have a say in the situation given the murky subject of the downed Electra’s actual ownership, given the fact Earhart had bought it through the Purdue Research Foundation and had planned to return it to Purdue University.

It is in international waters, which would also make it subject to salvage law for the eventual claimants who find it.

Earhart was just 39 when she went missing along with navigator Fred Noonan on an ambitious round the world flight. The flight took off on May 20, 1937, from California but was last seen on July 2 that year shortly after leaving Papua New Guinea for their next refuelling stop, Howland Island.

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