Tuesday 16 January 2018

Expert claims 'Amelia Earhart photo' in Japan was taken two years before her disappearance

Pilot Amelia Earhart poses for a portrait in and airplane in circa 1936. (Photo courtesty Library of Congress/Getty Images)
Pilot Amelia Earhart poses for a portrait in and airplane in circa 1936. (Photo courtesty Library of Congress/Getty Images)
A photograph from the US National Archive which it is claimed shows Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the Marshall Islands in 1937
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

It looks like the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance remains unsolved.

Earlier this month, it was claimed in a documentary on the History Channel that the 80-year mystery of the pilot's disappearance was solved, citing a picture allegedly of her with navigator Fred Noonan on a dock in the Marshall Islands in 1937.

But a Japanese blogger now claims the blurry photo was taken two years before her disappearance and goes on to argue it isn't her in the picture.

It had been generally accepted that Ms Earhart, and her navigator Fred Noonan, died on July 2, 1937, when their plane crashed close to Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean, amid poor visibility and low fuel levels.

A photograph from the US National Archive which it is claimed shows Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the Marshall Islands in 1937
A photograph from the US National Archive which it is claimed shows Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the Marshall Islands in 1937

A new documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence on the History channel, however, argues that the photograph proves Ms Earhart and Mr Noonan were picked up by the Japanese military, who believed they were spies, and taken prisoner.

It states the pair had crash-landed in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.

The blogger said the same photo first appeared in a Japanese travel book in 1935. It's reported the original caption for the image cites 1935 as the date of arrival.

History have acknowledged the shadow of doubt cast on their findings and said they will investigate. 

"We will be transparent in our findings, Ultimately historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers," they said in a statement on their website.

"So we're going to continue to investigate this," History investigator Shawn Henry told NBC News. "The accuracy is obviously important. We want to follow the facts where they lead, and we're certainly going to do that."

"I think the evidence that we've collected thus far in totality says that Noonan and Earhart landed in the Marshall Islands. I think that that's true."

The photo was discovered by Les Kinney, a retired US treasury agent, who has spent years trying to unravel the mystery of the Earhart expedition.

He said the photo "clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese".

The documentary tells of "a world-famous aviator who got caught up in an international dispute, was abandoned by her own government, and made the ultimate sacrifice," Mr Henry said.

"She may very well be the first casualty of World War II."

Experts stated the hairline of the man in the photo matched that of Mr Noonan.

"The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic," said Ken Gibson, a facial recognition expert. "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."

Marshall Islands residents have previously claimed they saw the plane crash near the island, with Ms Earhart and Mr Noonan being taken away by the Japanese.

"We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan [in the Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese," said Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer of the documentary.

"We don't know how she died. We don't know when."

Japanese authorities told NBC that there are no records indicating that Ms Earhart was in Japanese custody.

Ms Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. Earheart was declared dead by the United States government in 1939 after it was concluded her plane crash landed.

 

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