A newly discovered photograph that shows a woman resembling Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a dock in the Marshall Islands, suggests that the famous aviatrix and her navigator survived crash-landing in 1937, a team of investigators for a new History Channel documentary has claimed.
The photo, marked “Jaluit Atoll,” one of the several atolls of the Marshall Islands of the central Pacific Ocean, was discovered recently in an old and forgotten, but formerly top secret U.S. government file in the National Achieves, according to NBC News.
The photo, believed to have been taken in 1937, shows a woman with a short haircut, much like Earhart’s, sitting on a dock with her back to the camera, facing the sea. The woman is also wearing pants, a habit that Earhart made part of her fashion style.
The woman, according to History Channel investigators, appears to be the famous aviator Amelia Earhart, who disappeared mysteriously 80 years ago during a flight around the world.
Standing with some people a short distance away in the photo is a man who, according to the investigators, appears to be Earhart’s navigator Fred Noonan. Facial recognition experts working with the History Channel team noted the remarkable similarity between the hairline of the man in the photo and Noonan’s.
“The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic,” Ken Gibson, a facial recognition expert, pointed out. “It’s a very sharp receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.”
“It’s my feeling that this is very convincing evidence that this is probably Noonan.”
The photo, according to experts, could be the first convincing evidence that Earhart survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands. Her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, during a flight to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. The U.S. government gave up the search for her two years later under the assumption that her plane crashed in an unknown location in the Pacific.
No traces of her remains have been found since then.
The latest discovery is the subject of a History Channel documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, that airs on Sunday, June 9, 2017.
NBC News reported that multiple independent analysts agreed that the previously unknown photo appears to be genuine, and it was likely taken in 1937, soon after Earhart disappeared on July 2, 1937.
Former executive assistant FBI director, Shawn Henry, who examined the photo, said he was confident that it shows Earhart and Noonan.
“When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” Henry said.
“I think we proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she survived her flight and was held prisoner by the Japanese on the island of Saipan, where she eventually died.”
Based on the latest claimed evidence, the team of investigators for History Channel concluded that her plane was blown off course and crashed in the Marshall Islands. The History Channel team believes that the photo was taken by a U.S. spy who the Japanese authorities later captured and executed. The spy was not looking for Earhart and Noonan but spying for the U.S. government on Japanese military activity in the Pacific.
However, it is uncertain whether the person who took the photograph or the U.S. government was aware that the person in the photograph might have been Earhart.
Further evidence that the photo shows Earhart and Noonan is what appears in the background of the photo to be the Koshu, a Japanese navy ship, towing a barge carrying an object that could have been Earhart’s plane.
The latest piece of evidence, which comes 80 years after the mysterious disappearance of Earhart and Noonan, could shed light on claims that locals have made for decades that Earhart’s plane crashed and that the Japanese authorities took her away
According to Gary Tarpinian, executive producer of the History Channel documentary, it appears that the Japanese took Earhart to Saipan in the Mariana Islands, where Noonan was executed as a spy. It is thought that Earhart died later in Japanese custody.
“We don’t know how she died. We don’t know when.”
NBC News reports that Les Kinney, former government investigator who has been involved for 15 years in the search for clues about what happened to Earhart, also expressed confidence that the photo shows Earhart and her navigator.
He said the photo “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese.”
However, the Japanese authorities said they have no records that indicate that Earhart was ever in the custody of Japan’s imperial government before or during the war. However, investigators said that the relevant records might have been among millions of other official records destroyed during and after the war.
[Featured Image by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images]