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New photo casts light on Amelia Earhart’s disappearance

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-07-2017 Livemint

New Delhi: The disappearance of American aviator Amelia Earhart is one of the most intriguing aviation mysteries for the last 80 years. Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and her disappearance in July 1937 sparked volumes of speculation and theories over her death.

A never-seen-before photograph found in the US National Archives by retired US treasury agent Les Kinney has again brought to the fore discussion about Earhart’s disappearance. A report in the Washington Post says that Amelia Earhart is the subject of a new History channel documentary. The new documentary, titled Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, is based on a rare picture from the National Archives. The picture appears to be that of a Caucasian woman sitting on a dock in the Marshall Islands, which gives an impression that Amelia was taken into the custody of the Japanese soldiers.

The documentary, which will be aired on 9 July, will unveil several theories revolving around the disappearance and death of Earhart.

According to the newspaper report, the woman in the photo sports short hair and has a similar body structure to Earhart. The woman in the picture is shown wearing black pants with a white shirt, similar to how Earhart would usually dress up.

The report cites Shawn Henry, former FBI assistant executive director, who has been assisting the private investigation of Earhart’s disappearance, confirming the credibility of the image. “The fact that it came out of the National Archives as opposed to somebody’s basement or garage somewhere—that to me gave it a lot more credibility,” Henry was quoted as saying.

In the documentary, Henry points out that the woman in the picture, who looks similar to Earhart, has been facing away from the camera. The same picture, on the far right, shows a man who is believed to be Noonan, Earhart’s navigator, who too had disappeared along with her in the twin-engine Lockheed Electra.

As per prevailing beliefs, Earhart (39) and Noonan (44) ran out of fuel and had ditched the plane in the Pacific Ocean near the isolated Howland Island, while on the final journey.

The report adds excerpts from a TV show aired on NBC which quotes Gary Tarpinian, executive producer of the documentary, speaking about the alternate theory regarding Earhart’s death. Tarpinian told the channel that Koshu, a Japanese ship, took Earhart to Saipan, an active centre in Marinan Island, during World War II.

As per the second theory revealed by the channel, Earhart was arrested by the Japanese and she died in their custody. The production team claimed that the photo may have been taken by someone spying on Japan during the war.

The documentary negates an old theory that claimed Earhart died in a plane crash.

Also read: New clue may support theory that Amelia Earhart landed safely on an atoll

The newspaper report also discussed the findings of a Pennsylvania-based group called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), according to which Earhart and Noonan had landed to a coral atoll named Gardner Island, located 400 miles south of Howland Island. After their aircraft ran out of fuel, they landed on Gardner Island by using celestial navigation, TIGHAR said. TIGHAR further added that the two aviators tried to send out radio calls to seek help, but eventually died as castaways, said the report.

After the release of the photo by the National Archives, a report in the Daily Mail suggested that Earhart was an American spy sent to Japan to collect information. The report cites Josephine Blanco Akiyama, a woman of Japanese origin and now a resident of California, who claims to have seen Earhart after her aircraft landed. The report says that Akiyama, 12 years old at the time, claims to have seen Earhart being hauled away by the Japanese in Saipan in July 1937.

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