On March 17, 1937, pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, embarked on what would have been a record-breaking, 29,000-mile flight around the world. By July 2, 1937, they had vanished. Eighty-years and countless theories later, a photograph found among formerly classified documents in the national archives may solve one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history once and for all.
In the new History Channel documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, which airs on Sunday, July 9, former U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney describes how in 2012 he found a black and white photo that appears to show two Caucasian people — a man and possibly a woman with Earhart’s signature bobbed hair — sitting on a dock in the Marshall Islands amid a crowd of locals. Dated sometime before 1943, the photo was originally classified as top secret and was only found, Kinney explains, because it was misfiled. Now having undergone two separate analyses as well as forensic testing and facial recognition, the snapshot is believed to be genuine and unaltered.
Former Executive Assistant Director of the FBI Shawn Henry, who led the team of investigators that examined the evidence surrounding the photo, is convinced it is legitimate. “This absolutely changes history.” While it has long been believed that Earhart crashed her Lockheed Electra plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, the location of the crash site — as well as the question of whether or not she even survived the accident — has been the subject of much debate. At the time, Earhart’s disappearance prompted what became the largest sea and air search ever conducted by the U.S. government. Unfortunately, American vessels were barred from entering the Marshall Islands’ waters.
Watch the below video for a glimpse into the history behind the story and the making of the documentary.
Read the full story at Variety.