New Evidence Suggests Amelia Earhart Survived Her Plane Crash

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is one bewildering mystery that we're still trying to solve. Her goal of circumnavigating the globe came to a sudden end in 1937 when she—along with her navigator Fred Noonan—vanished over the Pacific Ocean. Earhart and Noonan were declared dead in 1939, but that hasn’t stopped folks from speculating what happened. Some (including experts) contend that she simply ran out of fuel, crashed her plane, and then sank. Others theorize more outrageous claims—like she changed her identity and lived a quiet life in New Jersey. Recently, however, a new hypothesis was revealed on the NBC Today show that could be the real story behind this 80-year enigma.

The short segment is part of a longer documentary set to air on the History Channel. It theorizes, based on a previously top secret photo, that Earhart was alive and in Japanese custody up until the time of her death. The image came from the National Archives, and it includes a caption that indicates it was snapped in 1937 on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands—an area controlled by the Japanese at that time.

New Evidence Amelia Earhart Found

Photo: National Archives / History Channel

The picture features locals standing on the dock, and beyond them, there are two Caucasian people that could be Earhart and Noonan. Earhart is allegedly sitting on the pier while Noonan stands off to the side.

So, how do we know it’s them? We can’t be sure, but a facial recognition expert studied the image and believes it's possible; the nose and hairline are a match for Noonan, as is the cropped haircut for Earhart.

New Evidence Amelia Earhart Found

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

There’s other evidence to support this argument. Behind the pier is a Japanese warship that’s towing something similar to the length of Earhart’s plane. In addition, this backs up the claims from local school children at the time. “Native schoolkids insisted they saw Earhart in captivity,” NBC News explained, “The story was even documented in postage stamps issued in the 1980s.”

As you might imagine, this new theory is disputed by Japanese officials who say they have no proof that Earhart and Noonan were ever with them. You can decide for yourself—the documentary is called Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence and it airs on Sunday, July 9, 2017.

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is still, 80 years later, a mystery.

Her goal of circumnavigating the world came to an abrupt end in 1937 when she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished over the Pacific Ocean.

New Evidence Amelia Earhart Found

Amelia Earhart (left) and Fred Noonan (right) on the plane they attempted to fly around the world.
Photo:Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Many think Earhart crashed in the ocean and her plane sank. New evidence, however, suggests that she and Noonan might've been living in Japanese custody. It's based on this previously top-secret photo:

New Evidence Amelia Earhart Found

Photo: National Archives / History Channel

If you look closely, you can make out the outline of a woman with cropped hair and a man who fits Noonan's description.

New Evidence Amelia Earhart Found

Photo: National Archives / NBC

The photo is part of a documentary called Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence which debuts on July 9, 2017 on the History Channel. It could be the closest we've come to figuring out her disappearance.

h/t: [BuzzFeed, Mental Floss]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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