As interesting new details begin to circulate about her disappearance 80 years ago, questions are being raised about exactly when Amelia Earhart died. Decades after her attempt to become the first female pilot to circumvent the globe, a History Channel special claims to have new evidence which suggests that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan may have not perished in a plane crash as historians once thought.
The aviation pioneer's disappearance has been widely regarded as one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century, with both Earhart and Noonan declared dead in 1939 following an exhaustive search for the wreckage, according to TIME. However, all signs point to the notion that it will never be proven exactly when, where, and how Earhart actually died.
A recently rediscovered photo, which researchers say features both Earhart and Noonan, is being used as integral piece of evidence to suggest that both explorers may have actually died while in the custody of the Imperial Japanese Army. An intricate look at the pic, which was 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, while the caption notes that the photo was taken on Jaluit Atoll on the Marshall Islands in 1937, a time during which the territory was under Japanese mandate.
The information — which will be detailed in the upcoming documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence — will also reportedly focus on other pieces of evidence surrounding the mystery when it makes its History Channel debut on July 9.
A recent story on the topic, which was featured on the Today Show, also indicates that studies conducted by former FBI executive assistant director, Shawn Henry, suggest that there could possibly be some truth to the long-standing theory that Earhart survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands and later died while in Japanese custody somewhere on the island of Saipan.
If this theory does prove to be true, details would still remain unclear about her ultimate fate. Realistically speaking, there may never be any solid answers, since Earhart's body was never recovered after her vanishing in 1937 at age 39. However, the History Channel will attempt to hypothesize what exactly went wrong during Earhart's ill-fated voyage by shedding light on this new evidence.
The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart was also instrumental in various causes, such as the National Women's Party and Equal Rights Amendment. This is all the more reason this mystery is worth further exploring — even if we may never get concrete answers.