Film claims to solve mys­tery of Earhart

Doc­u­men­tary sug­gests Mar­shall Is­lands crash

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Frazier Moore As­so­ci­ated Press file

NEW YORK» The photo is haunt­ing. Among a num­ber of fig­ures gathered on a dock, the fuzzy im­age seems to be that of a wo­man, her back to the cam­era, gaz­ing at what may be her crip­pled air­craft loaded on a barge, and per­haps won­der­ing what her fu­ture might hold.

Is this Amelia Earhart, the world-fa­mous avi­a­tor, wit­nessed af­ter her mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance while at­tempt­ing the first round-the-world flight 80 years ago this month?

That is the the­ory put forth in “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Ev­i­dence,” a two-hour doc­u­men­tary air­ing Sun­day at 9 p.m. EDT on the His­tory chan­nel. It un­cov­ers records, in­clud­ing this newly re­vealed photograph that shows what may be a healthy Earhart along with her nav­i­ga­tor Fred Noo­nan, af­ter they were last heard from.

The film also ar­gues that af­ter the pair crash-landed in the Ja­panese-held Mar­shall Is­lands, they were picked up by the Ja­panese mil­i­tary and that Earhart, per­haps pre­sumed to be a U.S. spy, was held pris­oner.

And there’s more: The United States govern­ment knew of her where­abouts and did noth­ing to rescue her, ac­cord­ing to the film.

The dis­ap­pear­ance of Earhart and Noo­nan on July 2, 1937, in the Western Pa­cific Ocean has gained leg­endary sta­tus among the age’s un­solved mys­ter­ies.

By then she had al­ready logged nu­mer­ous avi­a­tion feats, in­clud­ing that of be­ing the first wo­man to fly solo across the At­lantic Ocean in 1932. She reigned as an in­ter­na­tional hero.

And yet the U.S. govern­ment closed the book on its in­ves­ti­ga­tion just two weeks af­ter her dis­ap­pear­ance. Its vaguely worded find­ings were in­con­clu­sive.

Was there a cover-up? The film pro­poses there was.

The doc­u­men­tary is hosted by for­mer FBI Ex­ec­u­tive As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Shawn Henry, whose fas­ci­na­tion with the case is equaled by for­mer U.S. Trea­sury Agent Les Kin­ney, who dis­cov­ered the photo hid­den and mis­la­beled in the U.S. Na­tional Archives.

In the doc­u­men­tary, that photo is sub­jected to fa­cial-recog­ni­tion and other foren­sic test­ing. It is judged au­then­tic, and likely that of Earhart and Noo­nan.

The film also dis­plays plane parts found in an un­in­hab­ited is­land of the Mar­shall Is­lands by Earhart in­ves­ti­ga­tor Dick Spink that are con­sis­tent with the air­craft that Earhart was fly­ing on her round-the-world at­tempt. And it hears from the last liv­ing eye­wit­ness who claims to have seen Earhart and Noo­nan af­ter their crash.

The doc­u­men­tary tells of “a world-fa­mous avi­a­tor who got caught up in an in­ter­na­tional dis­pute, was aban­doned by her own govern­ment, and made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice,” Henry sums up. “She may very well be the first ca­su­alty of World War II.”

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