WASHINGTON — A recently discovered photograph suggests aviator Amelia Earhart might have survived a crash landing during her around-the-world flight 80 years ago, and then was captured by the Japanese.
According to the History Channel, a photo was found buried in the National Archives. The channel says it could hold the key to solving one of history’s all-time greatest mysteries.
The photo was supposedly taken days after the then-39-year-old Earhart crashed into the South Pacific atoll, People reports.
The picture shows two blurry images on a dock that is believed to be Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. A ship can be seen towing a barge with an airplane on the back.
Earhart and Noonan were last seen on July 2, 1937, as she tried to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.
Most experts believe Earhart likely ran out of fuel and crashed, but no trace of her, Noonan and the plane has ever been found.
“Gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We’re flying at 1,000 feet,” was Earhart’s last transmission to a Coast Guard cutter.
The History Channel reports the evidence suggests Earhart might have crashed in the Marshall Islands, then was captured by the Japanese military and died while being held prisoner.
Facial recognition expert Kent Gibson said the people on the dock appear to be Earhart and Noonan, and believes it is “likely” the lost aviators.
“This absolutely changes history,” said Shawn Henry, a former executive assistant director of the FBI who worked with the History Channel on the upcoming documentary on Earhart.
“I think we proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she survived her flight and was held prisoner by the Japanese on the island of Saipan, where she eventually died.”
The documentary, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” airs Sunday night on the History Channel.