Famed aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart never completed her 1937 circumnavigation attempt, and her disappearance has continually been one of the most-discussed events of the 20th century. To this day people continue to be fascinated with her story, and it has led to plenty of speculation and conspiracy theories.
And it's not just talk that surrounds Earhart's fateful flight. There are still active searches being performed - crews looking for the wreckage, looking to put a cap on the historic event.
Now, the organizers of one such search are facing a lawsuit from a man who says he was conned into paying for additional search missions, even though the wreckage had already been found.
A Wyoming Man, Timothy Mellon, has filed a federal lawsuit against The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and their executive director Richard E. Gillespie. The lawsuit alleges that TIGHAR unlawfully took $1 million from Mellon for a 2012 expedition. According to him, TIGHAR had already found Earhart's plane in 2010, about 1,800 miles south of Hawaii, and chose not to disclose that information.
Mellon points to a specific TIGHAR video from 2010, where he says the wreckage is visible.
"As a layman, it is hard to see, unless you know what you're looking at it," said Mellon's attorney. "Much of it relates to the landing gear and parts that are unique to the landing gear."
He added that his experts have come to a "definitive conclusion that that is in fact the wreckage, and it had been discovered two years before our client paid for another expedition."
TIGHAR has responded to the claims, calling the lawsuit "entirely without merit."
"We considered these claims and conducted our own assessment. Neither TIGHAR nor TIGHAR’s forensic expert could see anything in the video that can be linked to the Earhart disappearance," says TIGHAR.
According to TIGHAR, Mellon believes that not only parts of the plane are visible, but also remain of a banjo, violin, guitar, a flyswatter, and even Earhart herself.
"Despite the lawsuit, TIGHAR will always be grateful to Mr. Mellon for his contribution to the 2012 expedition and respects his right to interpret the imagery in any way he chooses. TIGHAR also maintains that the allegations in the lawsuit are entirely without merit and TIGHAR will defend itself fully."
A couple of weeks ago, TIGHAR revealed new sonar imagery that they say may show the Lockheed Model 10 Electra wreckage.