In a wondrous feat of historic oversight, an old photograph has resurfaced from the depths of the US National Archives and experts believe that it is an image of none other than Amelia Earhart. The photo suggests that the famed pilot, who for the past 80 years has been deemed the victim of a tragic plane crash, may have actually survived the accident along with her navigator, Fred Noonan. You read that right – this recently discovered picture means Amelia Earhart might have actually survived a crash landing in the Marshall Islands.
Earhart took off from a runway in Oakland, CA, on the morning of June 1, 1937, with the intent of making aviation history. However, hardly one month into her journey, on July 2, 1937, Earhart's plane seemingly disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean during her attempt to become the first woman to pilot a plane around the world.
It was originally believed that the Kansas-born pilot, with numerous flying records and awards under her belt, had somehow miscalculated and run out of gas at the worst possible time and met her end just short of the next fueling station on Howland Island. And since her body and the plane itself were never seen again, the mystery surrounding her untimely end has confounded historians ever since.
However, the mystery doesn't end there – evidence found within the photograph shows that the individuals identified as Earhart and Noonan may have actually been under the custody of the Japanese, and, considering the relationship that the US had with the Japanese in 1937, it can be assumed that they weren't the most welcome of guests. Did Amelia Earhart survive her trip around the world only to fall into the hands of hostile Japanese? This photograph suggests that may have been the case.
UPDATE 7/12/17: A military history blogger based in Tokyo, Japan, Kota Yamano, debunked the photograph with a short 30-minute dive into the origins of the photograph. According to Yamano's archival research, the image had been published in a travelogue about the South Seas in 1935 – two years before Earhart's crash and disappearance. The mystery of Amelia Earhart lives on.
The Photo Suggests Earhart Survived Her Crash Landing And Made It To The Marshall Islands
It has long been believed that Earhart's plane ran out of fuel somewhere near Howland Island and crash landed into the ocean on July 2, 1937; however, no evidence of her or her plane was ever found on any of the nearby Marshall Islands. Could this be because she was actually picked up by the Japanese?
According to expert analysis of the photograph, not only were Earhart and Noonan identified as two of the individuals standing on the loading dock, but Earhart's plane – a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra – is also believed to be the large object seen on the Japanese military barge, the Koshu Maru, in the background. Making this evidence all the more convincing is the writing found on the photograph that reads "Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll, Jaluit Island, Jaluit Harbor," which is a reasonable distance from where Earhart was believed to have crashed.
Yet, this raises the question – what were the Japanese doing with Earhart and her plane, and why wouldn't they have alerted the US to her arrival?
She Was Held Prisoner By The Japanese On Saipan
If the analysis of the newly recovered photograph is correct, it suggests that Earhart, after miraculously surviving her crash landing, was then apprehended by the Japanese military and imprisoned. As Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer of the History Channel special that is blowing the lid off of this mystery, "Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence," explained: "We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan [in the Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese."
Adding further credence to the validity of this possibility, locals who were living on the Marshall Islands during the time of Earhart's crash recall seeing her in the custody of Japanese officials and even claim to have seen the plane itself crash.
The Photo Was Taken By A US Spy
The answer to the question of where this photo came from and why it has taken so long for it to come to the attention of historians may hold the key to Earhart's true fate. The photograph, which was stamped with the official seal from the Office of Naval Intelligence, is believed to have been taken by a US spy employed with the task of gathering intelligence on Japanese military efforts in the Pacific.
Assuming this to be the case, any photographs or evidence acquired would be deemed top secret, and their public release could have put both the spy and Earhart herself in immediate danger. If this is true, it would explain why the photograph remained a secret for so long and why Earhart's survival was never announced to the public. The Japanese, however, deny ever having had Earhart in their custody.