Well, so much for that. The latest theory about what happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart was debunked by a Japanese history blogger in less than half the time it takes to watch the History Channel’s Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. The new documentary was based on a photo recently found in the U.S. national archives that showed a harbor in the Marshal Islands with two indistinct figures that somewhat resembled co-pilot Fred Noonan and a woman with Earhart’s signature cropped haircut. But Kota Yamano ran an online search of the Japanese national library and found that the photo comes from a book published a full two years before Earhart’s disappearance.
The simple search was based on the caption included with the photo, which mentioned the island of Jabor in the Jaluit atoll, and the monthly schooner races that took place there. Armed with those details, Yamano found the same photo in Japan’s National Diet Library, with the additional information that its source was a travelogue published 10 October 1935. He tweeted his find, and it was quickly shared by the many historians and Earhart fans who were debating the new theory and its supposed photographic evidence.
Yamano said of his research, “The photo was the 10th item that came up. I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”
The photo might not be of Earhart, but the History Channel documentary still details a conspiracy theory that isn’t so easily debunked. The theory floats the idea that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese and abandoned by the U.S. government to conceal the level of intelligence they had on Imperial Japan. Former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry was interviewed for the documentary and said that Earhart “may very well be the first casualty of World War II.”
Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, thinks another prevalent theory is more likely—that Earhart and Noonan perished as castaways on Nikumaroro, a remote island in the Pacific. He examined the controversial photo and found that only one of the boats in the picture is flying a Japanese flag and the style of steamboats indicate that “the photo is closer to the late 1920s or early 1930s, not anywhere near 1937.” It looks like historians and conspiracy buffs will just have to keep the Earhart theories flying.
(Via: The Guardian)