Les Kinney/U.S. National Archives
Last night the History Channel debuted a documentary called Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence which provided new insight to the lost aviator. But what exactly did this new investigation turn up with?
A declassified photograph found in the National Archives depicts a Caucasian woman with short hair and another Caucasian man on a Marshall Islands Port in the late 1930s. In the background, you can see a Japanese ship known as the Koshu Maru towing a twin engine aircraft which bears a striking resemblance to Earhart’s Lockheed Electra.
The documentary was spearheaded by Shawn Henry who spent 24 years as the Executive Assistant Director of the FBI. Henry approached this with the same detail as an FBI investigator, testing the photograph’s authenticity, questioning witnesses at the event and collecting evidence at the site. Henry also brought on forensic analysts who examined the photograph and concluded that the body proportions of the Caucasian man and woman in the photograph are nearly to Earhart and Noonan. The investigation went so far as to interview a 90-year-old woman from the Marshall Islands who claimed to have seen Earhart 80 years ago while in a Saipan prison, mistaking her for a man due to her short haircut.
In summation, the documentary states that Earhart and Noonan ran off course, had to turn back and ended up crashing on a small coral island in the South Pacific. From there they were rescued by a Japanese ship the Koshu Maru, taken back to Jaluit where the picture was taken. They thought they were rescued but were then transferred to Saipan under the control of the Japanese army, put in prison and later executed under suspicion of being spies.
Not everyone is convinced by the documentary, namely archeologist Ric Gilespie of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recover (TIGHAR). For nearly 30 years Gilespie has been undertaking his own search efforts to find the remains of Amelia Earhart and completely disregards the idea that Earhart was rescued by the Japanese.
“This is just a picture of a wharf at Jaluit with a bunch of people, it’s just silly.”
– Ric Gilespie (Executive Director TIGHAR)
Gilespie was instantly dismissive of the new documentary, although his own heavily-hyped expeditions have a reputation for attracting many investors (including National Geographic) and turning up with little to no evidence to support these claims. TIGHAR embarked on yet another expedition to the Island of Nikumaroro sponsored by National Geographic to search for Earhart and Noonan’s remains with bone-sniffing dogs, but once again turning up little to no results.
The evidence provided in Shawn Henry’s investigation is quite thorough and very convincing. However, there are still some out there who doubt the evidence. Is this just jealous over a great find or do you think it’s another hoax?