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Did Amelia Earhart die in captivity?


National Archives

J-P Mauro - published on 07/06/17

Newly found image suggests she survived a crash in the central Pacific

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One of America’s favorite historical mysteries has a new development. Almost 80 years to the day after Amelia Earhart‘s disappearance during her legendary attempt to circumnavigate the globe by air, The History Channel is releasing a documentary revealing new evidence suggesting she died in Japanese custody after surviving a crash near the Marshall Islands.

NBC reports on the photograph’s discovery:

The photo, marked “Jaluit Atoll” and believed to have been taken in 1937, shows a short-haired woman — potentially Earhart — on a dock with her back to the camera. (She’s wearing pants, something for which Earhart was known.) She sits near a standing man who looks like Noonan — down to the hairline. “The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic,” said Ken Gibson, a facial recognition expert who studied the image. “It’s a very sharp receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.” Gibson added: “It’s my feeling that this is very convincing evidence that this is probably Noonan.”

The report notes that it is hard to trace a clear picture of the events, since there are no officials from that era still alive. Nevertheless, the natives of Marshall Island told stories about the events for decades. These stories have passed into folk lore which was even depicted on Japanese postage stamps in the 1980s.

There are many other theories about Earhart’s disappearance; she crashed and sank in the Pacific, she crashed in the Phoenix Islands, she was a spy for FDR, and even that she was forced to make propaganda radio broadcasts as Tokyo Rose. While we may never know for certain, this new evidence may give us insight into the final days of one of America’s sweethearts.

Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence will air this Sunday, July 9, at 9 p.m. on The History Channel.

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