Investigating Whether The Amelia Earhart Photo Is Real

by Amy Roberts
Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If your interests exist somewhere between the intersection of history and unsolved mysteries, then the circulating picture suggesting Amelia Earhart may have survived her plane crash no doubt has you all kinds of shook. But is the Amelia Earhart photo real? On Wednesday, NBC's Today ran a segment regarding an upcoming History Channel special titled Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, and in it, an investigator named Les Kinney shared a photo that he claims may feature Earhart alive in Japanese custody. Formerly top secret and found in the National Archives, the image in question seems majorly convincing for a number of reasons.

Reportedly taken in 1937 in Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which were then under Japanese control, the picture shows two Caucasians, who are thought to be Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, surrounded by local islanders. According to experts featured in Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, the photo appears to contain certain convincing clues about its legitimacy, such as distinctive hair styles, facial features, and dress style appearing to match those of Earhart of Noonan. Additionally, a Japanese warship in the background also appears to be towing something that looks to be the length of Earhart's plane.

If the photo is real, then it certainly tells an incredible, fascinating story within a single image. And, as shown in the Today segment, various experts also remain positive regarding the authenticity of the photo and what it may portray. While one photo analyst concurred that the photo appeared to be "legitimate and undoctored," a former FBI executive stated that based on the analysis, there's "no doubt that that's Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan."

Earhart's fearless attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the world, only to disappear sometime during the journey, has mystified historians for decades. In 1939, despite neither Earhart or Noonan's remains being found, the two were both declared legally dead. However, according to an NBC News report on the photo, locals claimed to have seen Earhart's plane crash and witnessed her and Noonan being taken away. And according to the same report, native school children also reportedly insisted that they saw Earhart while she was held in captivity. All of this is pretty mind-blowing.

Adding to the mystique of the photo, the History Channel special and the NBC News report suggest that it's unclear whether or not the U.S. government was aware of who was in the photo. However, the speculation is that the photo may have been taken by a spy and that the U.S. government might not have wanted to compromise the safety of the spy by revealing the image to the public.

So, there you have it: Although the photo's legitimacy may never be completely confirmed, all the evidence suggests it very well could be real. This means that an 80-year-old unsolved mystery about one of history's most inspirational women may have just been cracked.