Huge breakthrough in search for Amelia Earhart’s missing plane as downed aircraft seemingly appears on the ocean floor in new SONAR image: Experts are ‘intrigued’ by impressive clue 87 years after her mysterious disappearance

A South Carolina man believes he may have discovered the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

Former US Air Force intelligence officer Tony Romeo turned his fascination with the legendary pilot into an adventure when he began an ambitious search for Earhart’s lost plane.

Romeo, who sold his commercial real estate investments to fund his search, managed to take a sonar image of an airplane-shaped object on the sea floor in December.

Earhart and her Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared at the height of her fame, a mystery that spawned decades of searches and conspiracy theories.

Earhart’s record attempt as a pioneering pilot at the dawn of the aviation age made her an international celebrity.

Earhart and her Earhart's Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared at the height of her fame

Earhart and her Earhart’s Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared at the height of her fame

Romeo, who sold his commercial real estate investments to fund his search, managed to take a sonar image of an aircraft-shaped object on the sea floor in December

Romeo, who sold his commercial real estate investments to fund his search, managed to take a sonar image of an aircraft-shaped object on the sea floor in December

She became the first woman to fly solo, nonstop across the continental US and the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the mainland across the Pacific Ocean.

“This might be the most exciting thing I’ll ever do in my life,” Romeo told the Wall Street Journal.

“I feel like a 10-year-old going on a treasure hunt.”

“For her to go missing was just unthinkable,” Romeo said.

Adding: ‘Imagine if Taylor Swift just disappeared today.’

Romeo spent $11 million to fund the trip and buy the high-tech equipment needed for the search, including an underwater ‘Hugin’ drone manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg.

The expedition started in early September from Tarawa, Kiribati, a port near Howland Island, with a crew of 16 aboard a research vessel.

In trips lasting 36 hours each, the unmanned submersible scanned 5,200 square miles of ocean floor.

Earhart's disappearance is a mystery that has led to decades of searches and conspiracy theories

Earhart’s disappearance is a mystery that has led to decades of searches and conspiracy theories

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida, on a round-the-world flight.  They disappeared after a stop in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, 1937, with only 7,000 miles of the journey remaining

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida, on a round-the-world flight. They disappeared after a stop in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, 1937, with only 7,000 miles of the journey remaining

Experts are not ready to call the find definitive and have requested clearer images with details such as a serial number matching Earhart's plane

Experts are not ready to call the find definitive and have requested clearer images with details such as a serial number matching Earhart’s plane

Finally, about a month into the search, it took a faint sonar image of an object the size and shape of an airplane resting about 5,000 meters underwater within 100 miles of Howland Island.

However, the image went unnoticed until the team found it when they scanned the data, about 90 days into the trip.

Romeo is now planning a return exhibition to get better images of the mysterious object.

Some experts are intrigued by Romeo’s discovery, including Dorothy Cochrane, a curator in the aviation division of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Cochrane told the Journal that the location of the sonar image roughly matches where experts have concluded Earhart may have crashed.

However, experts are not ready to call the find definitive and have requested clearer images with details such as a serial number matching Earhart’s plane.

“Until you physically look at this, there’s no way to tell for sure what it is,” Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the Journal.

Romeo is not the first to embark on expeditions in an attempt to locate the missing plane, half a dozen adventurers and enthusiasts have spent millions on the unsolved mystery.

Expeditions were launched in 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2017.

The missions collectively cost at least $13 million when adjusted for inflation, the Wall Street Journal estimated.

“It’s the only thing in my career that I’ve ever looked for and not found,” said Tom Dettweiler, a sonar expert who participated in two of the searches and was part of the team that sank the Titanic off the coast of found Newfoundland. Canada, in 1985.