Documentary: Earhart might have been captive

A documentary explores the fate of Amelia Earhart.
A documentary explores the fate of Amelia Earhart.
Image: Library of Congress.
Ever since her disappearance 80 years ago, there have been searches, conspiracy theories, conjecture and even gossip about what might have happened to the intrepid 39-year-old pilot Amelia Earhart.

     Earhart and Fred Noonan, her flight navigator, disappeared over the Pacific sometime around July 2, 1937, during a flight around the world. A search for the two was unsuccessful. But afterward, attempts were made to find them, or, at least, the airplane's wreckage. Now, a History Channel documentary “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” explores the possibility that Earhart and Noonan were taken prisoner by the Japanese.
     In various accounts, the two aviators were thought to have run out of fuel and crashed, possibly on or near an atoll in the western Pacific.
     But the History Channel program, billed as an “investigative documentary,” contends that the two crash-landed in the Marshall Islands, were captured by the Japanese and died as prisoners on the island of Saipan, a news release explains. Set to air at 9 p.m., July 9, the documentary focuses on a U.S. Naval Intelligence photograph found by Les Kinney, a former U.S. Treasury agent. The photo is marked, “Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll, Jaluit Island, Jaluit Harbor,”  and the documentary argues that Earhart can be seen on the dock. A ship towing something that could be an airplane is in the background.
     The History Channel points out that this theory isn’t new. The possibility that Earhart and Noonan crashed in the Marshall Islands made news in the 1960s and was based on the testimony of islanders who contended that they saw Earhart’s Electra aircraft land and witnessed Earhart and Noonan taken into custody. 
Investigators believe Earhart is the person sitting (circled),
and Noonan is among the men to the left. Photo courtesy of Les Kinney
and the U.S. National Archives.


     Group: Metal likely a piece of Earhart’s airplane

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