It’s been 80 years since Amelia Earhart made her attempt to fly around the globe. The unsolved mystery of her disappearance has recently taken a surprising twist as potential new evidence hit the news. An intriguing photo had surfaced, leading a handful of experts to proclaim that the legendary aviator may have survived the 1937 crash landing only to be captured by the Japanese. The recently discovered photograph, supposedly taken after she crashed-landed on a remote South Pacific island, was the main topic of a History Channel special.
A former U.S. Treasury agent and expert named Les Kinney reportedly discovered the photo while combing through government records from the Office of Naval Intelligence while investigating Earhart’s disappearance. He discovered the photo in a “formerly top secret” file in the National Archives. The photo was marked as “declassified,” with the following caption: PL-Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll, Jaluit Island. Jaluit Harbor. ONI #14381. With the photo undated, some analysts assumed that it depicted Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. The photo depicts two blurry images on a dock, believed to be Noonan and Earhart who is staring at a nearby ship with her back turned to the camera.
It was analyzed by experts and analysts who argued whether it showed Earhart and Noonan. In the background, they identified the ship Koshu Maru and thus argued that possibly the Koshu Maru rescued Earhart and Noonan in 1937.
When Earhart embarked on her flight, many of the islands in the South Pacific were controlled by the Japanese. War would not break out between the U.S. and Japanese for another four years, immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
According to Kinney, the only reason why he was able to find the photo was that it had been misfiled. He further insists that any document that referred to Earhart as a Japanese prisoner would have been deleted from an official file long ago to hide the fact that the government had been familiar with Earhart’s captivity but didn’t do anything about it.
The undated photograph was examined and evaluated by two top forensic photo analysts. One of them, the digital forensic analyst Doug Carner, claimed: “I can say with more than 99.7 percent confidence that the photo is authentic and untouched.”
The startling theory suggesting a government cover-up is in contrast to the commonly accepted belief that Amelia’s life ended when her plane crashed into the ocean. The leader of the team of investigators, Shawn Henry, stated: “This absolutely changes history. 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.”
In response to this provocative version of Earhart’s fate, a Japanese military history blogger has cast significant doubt on the photo. He claims that the found records of the photo that supposedly depicted Amelia Earhart surviving the crash landing in 1937 were published two years prior the vanishing of the famous aviator.
Known as @baron_yamaneko on Twitter, the blogger claims to have found evidence that the photo now being publicized predated Earhart’s disappearance. According to the blogger’s explanation, “the photograph was first published in Palau under Japanese rule in 1935, in a photo book … So the photograph was taken at least two years before Amelia Earhart had disappeared in 1937 and a person on the photo was not her.” The blogger says the photograph, taken by Jaluit Atoll, was published in the photo book Umi no seimeisen: Waga nannyou no sugata, in the National Library of Japan. Its publication date is listed as 1935. The photo book was digitized and published online by Japan’s National Diet Library. Its publication date, 1935, is listed in traditional Japanese style as “Showa 10.”
The blogger added that the ship identified in the photo is actually the Koshu, a ship seized by the Japanese in WW1. According to him, the Koshu Maru was launched in 1937.
The History Channel is considering this evidence as their team of investigators explores the latest developments. Their spokeswoman, Kirby Dixon, stated that historical accuracy is most important to them as well as to their viewers.