The search, to be launched this summer by the Delaware-based International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, is driven by what Jeff Glickman said he sees in a grainy, black-and-white photo taken a few months after Earhart's disappearance by a British civil-service officer surveying a tiny Pacific Ocean atoll for a possible settlement.
A small black object in the photo could be the upside-down landing gear of the Lockheed Electra aircraft Earhart was piloting when she and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared while nearing the completion of an intended round-the-world flight, Glickman said.
"This was an important piece of American history," he told The Seattle Times. "She was a true pioneer who had a tremendous amount of courage."
Glickman, 51, is a forensic examiner who analyzes photographs or other visual images, usually for clients such as law firms, scientific organizations or commercial customers.
He says computer-enhanced images of the 1937 photograph strongly suggest objects in the photo include four aircraft parts: a landing-gear wheel, a fender, a gear and strut.
The expedition this summer will map the ocean floor around the atoll and send unmanned equipment down to inspect whatever is found, researchers said.