There's yet another layer to the mystifying story of Amelia Earhart's disappearance some 80 years ago, thanks to a new documentary coming to History Channel. A photo, recently discovered by investigator Les Kinney, reportedly reveals a glimpse of the famed aviator after her plane crashed in 1937. This photo would lend credence to the theory that Earhart actually died after being taken into custody by the Japanese army following her crash landing in the Marshall Islands. The upcoming History Channel special, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, will expand on the photographic proof that both Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan may have survived the round-the-world flight attempt several decades ago.
An intricate look at the pic, which Kinney reportedly found "buried" in a “formerly top secret” file within the National Archives, reveals two people who bear striking resemblance to Earhart and Noonan, according to People. The caption beneath the picture notes that the photo was taken on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1937, a time during which the island was under Japanese mandate. The newly uncovered evidence has led many to theorize that both the pilot and navigator may have been taken into custody by the Imperial Japanese Army, according to Buzzfeed.
In addition to the sighting of Earhart and Noonan, the photo also depicts the towing of an object that appears to be the same size of the Electra aircraft that Earhart operated during the ill-fated voyage.
The forthcoming documentary suggests that both Earhart and Noonan may have taken captive on suspicion of espionage, as indicated by Buzzfeed. The report goes on the claim that they were most likely imprisoned in the Northern Mariana Islands and possibly died there some time later.
In her final expedition, Earhart set out to become the first female pilot to completely circumnavigate the earth. The aviation pioneer would last be heard from on July 2, 1937. Although their remains were never discovered, both Earhart and Noonan were declared dead in 1939 following an exhaustive search for the wreckage, according to Time.
Sources for NBC News reported, "For decades, locals have claimed they saw Earhart's plane crash before she and Noonan were taken away." However, Buzzfeed notes that Japanese officials maintain that they have no record or evidence that either explorer had ever been in their custody.
It remains to be seen whether or not the persons in the photo are, in fact, Earhart and Noonan, although NBC reveals that analysts for History have indicated that the snapshot appears to be completely "legitimate and undoctored."
"When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that's been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that's Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan," former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry explained to NBC.
It's worth pointing out that this theory is not by any means a new one. It has lived on, along with many other theories related to Earhart's disappearance, as one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. Although it's highly doubtful, it'll be interesting to see whether or not the newly rediscovered photo will change the history books.