Is This Amelia Earhart?

170705-amelia-earhart-marshall-islands-1937-njs-921a_dc54c36fc9e07144008eb24d4b245ccf.nbcnews-fp-1200-800-1The search of Amelia Earhart is a mystery that seems to deepen by the year.  The latest intriguing twist is the photo above.  Marked “Jaluit Atoll,” the photo shows a short-haried woman wearing pants and sitting with her back to the camera.  Near her is a tall man resembling her co-pilot Fred Noonan.  The 1937 photo was taken on a dock in the Marshall Islands and is being cited as support for the theory that the two were captured alive and died in Japanese custody during World War II on the island of Saipan.


Earhart appears to have been blown off course, though some have suggested that she was on a spy mission for the United States.  The pictures do have tantalizing similarities, particularly in the short hair cut of the woman and features of the tall man.


The Japanese insist that they have no record of Earhart being in the custody of their forces.



53 thoughts on “Is This Amelia Earhart?”

  1. The fact that this picture was found in US archives raises the possibility that at least someone in the US government thought it was real, and the possibility that Earhart was in Japanese custody was suppressed for political reasons. Don’t forget that 1937 was also the year of the Panay incident.

    1. Why would they self-consciously suppress it? It’s not evidence of anything.

  2. Clickbait.

    At 120 years old, she’s alive and happens to be one of the younger Wal-Mart greeters in Peoria.

  3. She and Mr. Noonan died 80 years ago. There’s a possibility they were able to land their plane on an uninhabited island. Uninhabited islands are uninhabited because there isn’t the means of support for a human population.

    Her husband, G.P. Putnam, understood immediately what had happened and understood it as a consequence of the risks she had self-consciously assumed (and assumed with his support). The whole unfortunate turn of events has been grist for historical fabulists.

  4. I love the topic so many theories on what happened to this historic flight of the time. I think there is so little solid evidence of what happened to her we will never know what happened.
    This photo looks photoshopped.

    1. They were having trouble navigating, could not locate their next stop, ran out of fuel, and went into the drink. From their last communications, the Navy has a passable idea of where she was, and that’s about 900 miles from the nearest Japanese outpost.

    2. J. Pismo,…
      They found wreckage from the PT-109 (1200 feet down) about 15 years ago, c. 60 years after it sunk.
      I agree that there seems to be very little evidence of exactly where Earhart went down.
      Absent actual discovery of the Lockheed she flew, there seems to be mostly speculation as to exactly where she went down.
      The “survival stories” keep popping up over the years.
      “Is this piece of aluminum part of Amelia’s plane?”, “is this piece of a shoe from Earhart?”, “Do these bone fragments show that Earhart lived on this island?”, “Is this a photo of Amelia with the Japanese?”, “is this feces from Amelia Earhart?”, etc.
      You can do a google search and see how many times the headlines have claimed that the “Earhart mystery” has finally been solved, but the “evidence” always seems flimsy to me.
      I look forward to watching the “History” Channel Earhart special about as much as I’d like rewatching the Geraldo special “What’s in Al Capone’s safe?”

  5. I think there is enough in this picture to not dismiss it out of hand. But if so, I wonder why the Japanese would have taken her to Saipan, and not Tokyo? Perhaps now there will be a rush to hunt for burial grounds on Saipan.

    1. I’ll dismiss it. One candidate has his / her back to the camera and is unidentifiable and the other is a generic white man that does not look particularly like Fred Noonan.

  6. I am paid to be skeptical, and it comes by nature. I need more than these grainy photos.

    1. Mespo,…
      Gardner Island is at least 350 miles from Howland.
      If she was critically low on fuel as she was trying to find Howland, how is she able to fly to Gardner Island?

        1. mespo – the evidence is only strong that she got lost and couldn’t be found. 😉

            1. Mespo and Paul Schulte,.. – You might be interested in Brian Dunning’s article” More Amelia Earhart Nonsense”.
              Ric Gillespie and the TIGHAR project are somewhat controversial, and suspected of onvestigative “shortcuts”.

            2. mespo – that is just a lot of info the she could not be found. 🙂

        2. Mespo,…
          Fred Noonan was highly regarded as one of the best navigator around.
          He helped Pan Am establish their Pacific Ocean flights, so his knowledge of the Pacific was substantial.
          That said, he still may have made navigational errors, but it would not have been caused by inexperience.
          The Howland Island radio operators, and those in nearby ships, first picked up transmissions from Earhart when she was about 200 miles West oc Howland.
          Those transmissions got stronger and stronger as she got closer to Howland, and was thought to be be fairly close ( maybe 25-50 miles) as she did a mostly NORTH-SOUTH/ back and forth search trying to spot Howland.
          The last radio messages they got from Earhart were panicked concerns about running out of fuel.
          Even IF she abandoned the search for Howland, and somehow had been able to fly c. 380 miles and land on/ near Gardner Island, she would likely have continued transmitting to Howland letting them know her plans and her heading.
          Instead, there was an abrupt end to her communication with Howland, on the heels of her concerns about a fuel emergency.

          1. She had a lower antenna problem that may have contributed to the transmission loss. The flight path evidence is conflicting and a search along the path you describe yielded nothing. Noonan was a fine navigator but given the state of aviation at the time, errors were common.

            1. Mespo,..
              -I think Howland could hear Earhart, but she couldn’t hear them.
              Just what I’ve read seems to point to her lack of experience with her plane’s radio, but it may have been equipment deficiencies.
              Or a combination of her lack of radio experience and snags in the hardware.
              In any case, the abrupt end to the transmissions, on the heels of her increasingly urgent messages about they remaining fuel, makes me think she ran out of fuel and ditched in the ocean ( shortly after her last transmission).
              If she gave up on Howland and embarked on a c. 380 flight south to Gardner, it seems unlikely to me that an equipment failure at that exact point in time would be an improbable coincidence.
              I think the massive search area also include Gardner Island….at least an air search.
              I’d have to recheck, but I think Gardner Island was observedby air within a few days of Earhart’s disappearance.
              There seem to be too many weak links in the theory that she ended up on Gardner.

              1. They did search Gardner but it was a fly by. The intriguing evidence is a photo taken some years later supposedly showing a landing gear similar to Electra’s.

  7. So. Turleydog. Where was she last seen on the ground? How far could her plane fly on a full tank from there? Is this island in the photo to far from that place? Why would the Japs keep her back in 1937? The Japs were rotten that is for sure.


  8. The guy standing next to Noonan is Judge Crater. An updated photo shows Jimmy Hoffa hosing down the dock.

  9. This photograph is not as as clear as the Bigfoot photos. I never bought into the Japanese capture story because I think they would have publicized it.

    1. The Japanese were fortifying Jaluit Atoll in the late 1930s, and using it as a naval outpost. They may not have wanted any Westerners to know about it, and therefore would not have publicized the capture of any Westerners who landed there.

      1. She died somewhere in the vicinity of Howland Island, hundreds of miles away from any Japanese outpost.

  10. Yawn.

    Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the law. Is this the silly season?

  11. I’ll watch The History Channel on Sunday and see what they come up with.
    It looks probable from the teasers and that face expert.

  12. I blew up the pictures and am not convinced the person sitting on the dock is a woman – in fact, you can’t really tell what it is other than it being a person. However, the real clue is the airplane being towed on a barge behind the steamer. It is NOT a Lockheed Vega. In fact, it’s not a twin-engine airplane at all. It’s obviously a prewar airplane, probably a fighter. Besides, Earhart’s Vega didn’t have the fuel to make it to the Marshalls after flying to Howland and making several places. Earhart’s disappearance is no mystery – she was a lousy pilot and even worse navigator. She missed her arrival point in Africa by FOUR HUNDRED MILES! As for Noonan, he was an experienced navigator but he was flying with a woman with a terrible reputation, a woman made famous by her promoter husband.

    1. You’ve been paying too much attention to her catty rivals in the 99s.

  13. Well, it would be nice if they could find her body. What I wonder is, if you are going to fly across the Pacific, why not do it in one of those seaplane thingies, where if things go wrong, you can at least try to paddle somewhere? Stock it full of food and water and fish hooks, and sunscreen. Goodness Gracious, have a Plan B.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. This surfaces every once in a while as a new effort to research in depth a new possible end to the story is gearing up. So far the best they have done is rule out one more possibiity. Ockham’s Razor of course says when there ae no more possibilities left except one……we will always have the big briny as the most likely answer.

  15. A book published in the 80s, “Witness to the Execution,” proposed this theory.

  16. I have clearer pictures of “Nessie” and “Bigfoot”. Good luck with that.

    1. Yeah, it’s a pity whoever took that picture didn’t have full color, high resolution imaging, and zoom capability. Back in the 1930s.

  17. “Happy landings to you, Amelia Earhart – farewell, First Lady of the air.” — Red River Dave, 1939

    1. I’d rather be inspired by a pilot who didn’t get lost and crash-thank you very much!

      1. She wasn’t running a commercial service, woman. She was a pioneer attempting to do something that hadn’t been done before.

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