It’s been 75 years since Amelia Earhart disappeared in the South Pacific, but researchers have gotten a new lead in the case. A photo that was taken only three months after her disappearance could hold an important clue to where she is.

The photo, which has been recently enhanced, appears to show wreckage from her plane. The object in the photo was so fuzzy that researchers called it “Nessie,” which is the nickname of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, but now that it has been digitally enhanced, researchers believe it is the landing gear from her plane.

Researcher Ric Gillespie, director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery is leading a search for the plane. He said of the picture, which the group has been examining closely for several years, “To you and me it might just look like a blob, but to the people who do forensic imaging analysis, all the elements of the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra, the kind of plane Amelia was flying, are present.”

With this new evidence in hand, a crew is heading out to the island that also appears in the photograph, and is near where faint distress calls were detected after Earhart’s disappearance, to begin searching for Earhart’s plane again. They’ll begin the search in July, exactly 75 years after the plane went down.

Of course, finding a small plane in a large ocean isn’t an easy task. Robert Ballard, who led the expedition that found the Titanic in 1985, said, “If you ever want a case of finding a needle in a haystack, this is at the top of the list in deep sea exploration.” Even so, Gillespie is optimistic that the mystery will soon be solved.


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