According to HISTORY’s investigative special “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” retired federal agent Les Kinney scoured the National Archives for records that may have been overlooked in the search for the lost aviator.
Among thousands of documents he uncovered was a photograph stamped with official Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) markings reading “Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll, Jaluit Island, Jaluit Harbor.” In the photo, a ship can be seen towing a barge with an airplane on the back; on a nearby dock are several people.
Kinney argues the photo must have been taken before 1943, as U.S. air forces conducted more than 30 bombing runs on Jaluit in 1943-44. He believes the plane on the barge is the Electra, and that two of the people on the dock are Earhart and Noonan.
As part of the program’s investigation, Doug Carner, a digital forensic analyst, examined the photo and determined it was authentic and had not been manipulated, while Kent Gibson, another forensic analyst who specializes in facial recognition, said it was “very likely” the individuals in it are Earhart and Noonan. Both analysts identified the ship in the photo as the Japanese military vessel Koshu Maru, which may be the ship that took Earhart and Noonan away after their crash landing.
The Life of Amelia Earhart: Purdue Libraries.
Amelia Earhart: Missing for 80 Years But Not Forgotten: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Model, Static, Lockheed Electra, Amelia Earhart: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Exclusive: Bone-Sniffing Dogs to Hunt for Amelia Earhart’s Remains: National Geographic.
Where Is Amelia Earhart? Three Theories but No Smoking Gun: National Geographic.
The Earhart Project: The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).
Theories On The Disappearance Of Amelia Earhart
Throughout the 1920s and 30s, although forming a thirteenth of all aviators, many women played a significant role in flying. (Corn, p 72) Amelia Earhart was one of these women. She was a pioneer in women’s aviation. In 1928, she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alongside pilot Wilmer "Bill" Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis E. "Slim" Gordon. Four years later, she became the first woman to fly solo across the same ocean, replicating the record setting flight of Charles Lindbergh. During her life she set many women’s records: altitude records, solo American coast to coast flight records, and speed records. (Amelia Earhart, Achievements) She also came in at fifth place in the Bendix Trophy air race in 1936, of which women won three of the five top spots. (Corn, p 556)
In 1937, nearing her 40th birthday, Earhart was ready for her next challenge: being the first woman to fly around the world. Before departing she had said "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it." She was joined by navigator Fred Noonan on the 29,000 mile journey. They started their journey off in Miami on June 1st. On June 29th, they landed in in New Guinea with 7,000 miles of their journey remaining. Inaccurate maps seemed to be making the navigation challenging for Noonan, and Howland Island was going to be the trickiest. All unessential items were removed from the plane, making space for extra fuel, which added approximately 274 extra miles. During the flight many radio messages were sent, some talking of a storm and some saying she was close to the island; however, these messages were faint or interrupted by static. ( Lauber, p 85-87) The United States immediately launched what was known as “the greatest rescue expedition in flying history.” (Gillespie, p xiii) On July 19th, the search was called off. (Amelia Earhart, Biography, p 1-2) Throughout the years, many theories about her disappearance have been developed.
Crash and Sank Theory
The “Crash and Sank” theory says that Amelia Earhart ran out of fuel before she could find her destination, Howland Island, and was forced to go down somewhere in the ocean. In an official report, the U.S. government reached the same conclusion. Earhart was declared dead on January 5, 1939, 18 months after her disappearance. (History)
Amelia faced many problems during her last flight. Four hours and eighteen minutes into the flight, they were already looking at stronger headwinds than expected. Due to this, she had to increase her optimum speed to 140 knots (161 mph). As a consequence, she would have to fly at a higher altitude to save fuel. However, the high temperatures of the area would reduce the density of the air. “Above the optimum altitude the temperature’s effect on air density is equivalent to approximately a 2000-foot increase in altitude and a corresponding increase in fuel consumption.” (Long, p 17) Either way, flying above or below...
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