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Long-lost Spy Photo Appears to Show Amelia Earhart Survived Crash Landing

Newly discovered evidence suggests she and her navigator were taken into Japanese custody.

News RealClearLife Staff

A newly discovered photograph suggests that Amelia Earhart, America’s legendary aviator who vanished 80 years ago on a round-the-world flight, survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands, which were under Japanese control at the time.

Amelia Earhart Marshall Islands
Photo discovered in the National Archives which is believed to be taken by a U.S. spy in the Marshall Islands in 1937. (National Archives)

The photo was found in the National Archives. It shows a woman who resembles Earhart sitting on a dock looking out at a boat, as well as a man who resembles her navigator, Fred Noonan, standing nearby.

The photo is believed to have been taken in 1937 by a U.S. spy in the Marshall Islands—which was Japanese territory at the time—who was later reportedly killed by the Japanese. The woman in the photo has short hair and pants, which is something Earhart was known for. The man has a very distinctive sharp and receding hairline, like Noonan. Another piece of evidence is the Japanese ship, Koshu, that the woman is looking at. The photograph shows it towing a barge with something that appears to be 38-feet-long—the same length as Earhart’s plane.

Amelia Earhart Marshall Islands
Close-up of National Archives photo showing a woman who resembles Amelia Earhart. (National Archives)

Earhart was last heard from on July 2, 1937 as she was flying a leg to the Howland Island. She was attempting to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Though her remains were never found, she was declared dead two years later. The most common theory for her disappearance was that she veered off course, ran out of fuel, and crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. However, this photograph seems to prove otherwise. Independent analysts say the photo appears “legitimate and undoctored,” according to NBC News

The photograph is featured in a new History channel special “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which airs Sunday.

Les Kinney, a retired government investigator, has spent the last 15 years looking for Earhart clues. He told NBC News that the photo “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese.

Amelia Earhart stands June 14, 1928 in front of her bi-plane called "Friendship" in Newfoundland. Earhart (1898 - 1937) disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly around the world in 1937.
Amelia Earhart stands June 14, 1928 in front of her bi-plane called “Friendship” in Newfoundland. Earhart (1898 – 1937) disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly around the world in 1937. (Photo by Getty Images)

However, Japanese authorities told NBC News that they have “no record of Earhart being in their custody.” But locals have claimed for decades that they saw Earhart’s plane crash before she and Noonan were taking away. It was even documented in postage stamps that were issued in the 1980s.

The executive director of the History special, Gary Tarpinian, said that they “believe the Koshu took her to (the Mariana Islands) and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese.”

Tarpinian said that they still don’t know when or how she died. It is also unclear if the U.S. government knew who was in the photograph.

Read full story at NBC News