A Newly Discovered Photograph Might Prove That Amelia Earhart Survived Her Flight

Only to be captured by the Japanese military.

Amelia Earhart in cockpit of plane

• A two-part documentary airing on HISTORY alleges that Amelia Earhart was captured by the Japanese military after she crash-landed her plane.

• The special points to a newly discovered photograph that apparently shows her and her navigator in the Marshall Islands.

• Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence airs Sunday, July 9 at 9 p.m. EST.

The 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the famous aviator who broke records and gender barriers, has been one of the most notorious unsolved mysteries in American history. And now, a new documentary claims to have the answer to her troubling fate.

This weekend, HISTORY will air a special that claims Earhart survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands, was captured by the Japanese military, and died in their custody on Saipan. The special revolves around Shawn Henry, a former FBI executive assistant director, who investigates U.S. government archives to uncover long-lost information about Earhart's disappearance.

According to the two-part documentary, the newly discovered photo below shows Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, in the Marshall Islands. The photo had apparently been mislabeled and hidden within the U.S. National Archives. But look closely and you'll see two blurry people, with Earhart's back allegedly to the camera:

Amelia Earhart

(Image credit: National Archives/HISTORY)

Henry and his team investigate the photo, along with other evidence like plane parts and eyewitness interviews, to make their claim about what happened to Earhart and Noonan. According to People, this explanation has long been a conspiracy theory about Earhart's disappearance, but Henry says the photograph makes it more of a real possibility than ever before. He argues that the Japanese may have thought the aviators were spies, and since American searchers weren't allowed into the Marshall Islands, they never found a trace of the plane.

Amelia Earhart in front of plane

(Image credit: National Archives/HISTORY)

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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.