Photo: Fox Photos / Stringer / Getty Images

It’s been 80 years since Amelia Earhart disappeared while flying her plane on a trip around the world, but there are no conclusive explanations yet. Now, a new History Channel documentary attempts to solve the mystery of what happened on that fateful last flight. A newly found photo claims to prove that Earhart survived after the assumed crash. Experts are divided over what the photo means.

Some questions never go away and continue to gnaw at people’s minds. Like the 80-year mystery of what happened to aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart on July 2, 1937. Several theories as to what happened to Earhart on this fateful day have surfaced, but none have been conclusive. Hence, the public’s fascination with the unexplained disappearance of Earhart carries on to this day. A newly found photograph has added more fuel to the raging controversy about Earhart’s disappearance. The photo shows blurry figures on a dock that some experts are claiming is proof that Earhart survived her crash in the Pacific in 1937. This has been revealed in a new History Channel documentary that has divided experts on this issue. Do we now know what happened to Amelia Earhart? Learn more right here with details from our Amelia Earhart wiki.

Breaking the Norm

Amelia Earhart Found

Photo: Topical Press Agency / Stringer / Getty Images

Born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas to Amy Otis and Edwin Earhart, Amelia Earhart’s age was 39 when she disappeared. Earhart had a sense of adventure right from childhood and spent a lot of time playing with her younger sister, hunting rats with a rifle, climbing trees, and riding her sled down the hill. In other words, Earhart was the proverbial “tomboy.” Her father would drink heavily and was forced to retire from his job as a lawyer in 1914. Earhart went to Hyde Park High School in Chicago and graduated in 1916. She was constantly thinking about her career, and had a predilection for male-oriented fields like film direction and production, advertising, law, management, and mechanical engineering.

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Time to Fly

amelia earhart photo

Photo: Getty Images / Staff / Getty Images

During World War I, Earhart worked as a nurse’s aide at the Spadina Military Hospital. Later, she enrolled at Columbia University for a course in medical studies, but quit after a year. It was on December 28, 1920, when she got to ride on a plane, that Earhart knew what she wanted to do with her life. She said at that time, “By the time I got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.” Earhart worked at a variety of jobs including a photographer, stenographer, and truck driver, in order to save money for flying lessons. She worked hard, cut her hair short, wore a leather jacket, and finally learned to fly an aircraft.

Breaking Convention, Setting Records

Despite a continuing sinus problem, Earhart continued to fly and became a capable pilot. After Charles Lindbergh had a successful solo flight over the Atlantic in 1927, several women pilots decided to emulate, or better, this feat. In August 1928, Earhart became the first woman to fly alone across North America and back. In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. In early 1936, Earhart started planning a flight around the world. On June 29, 1937, she arrived at Lae, New Guinea, after completing 22,000 miles of the journey. The remaining 7,000 miles had to be flown over the Pacific Ocean.

What Happened to Amelia Earhart?

On June 2, 1937, Earhart and her second navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Lae in their Electra aircraft. Their destination, Howland Island, was only 2,556 miles away. Contact with Earhart’s plane was lost near the Nukumanu Islands, about 800 miles into the flight. The weather was cloudy and overcast, but attempts were made to reach Earhart through both voice and Morse code transmissions. There is no final determination about the location of the signals from Earhart’s plane, even though a massive search-and-rescue mission was immediately launched. There are reports that signals came up to five days after her disappearance, but they are not confirmed. The official search efforts were made until July 19, 1937, and her husband, George Putnam, later financed a private search effort.

When Did Amelia Earhart Die?

Putnam requested the probate court in Los Angeles, California waive the seven-year waiting period U.S. law put in place for those who are declared death in absentia, so that he could handle Earhart’s finances. The court agreed to his request and declared Earhart legally dead on January 5, 1939. Some people believe that Earhart died earlier in 1937 when her plane supposedly crashed in the Pacific, but no trace of the Electra plane or Earhart was ever found.

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Multiple Theories Abound

Amelia Earhart Death

Photo: Topical Press Agency / Stringer / Getty Images

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There are two main theories surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. The first is the “crash and sink” theory, where it is believed that the plane ran out of fuel with Earhart and Noonan being left at sea. It is believed that the plane ran out of gas and is currently resting at the bottom of the sea off Howland Island. The second theory is called the “Gardner Island hypothesis.” It is assumed that since Earhart could not find Howland Island, she would have turned south and looked for more islands and made it to Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro), one of the Phoenix Islands. However, Navy planes searched this area within a week of the plane’s disappearance, but did not find any sign of the plane or its occupants.

Photo Sparks Speculation

amelia earhart documentary

Photo: youtube.com/watch?v=e837W-kZoY8

The most recent photo was discovered by U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney allegedly shows Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan among a bunch of people on a dock in Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands. An expert in facial recognition stated that the hairline of a man in the photo matches that of Noonan, while the short hair and torso measurements of a person sitting on the dock are that of Earhart. The experts have said that the blurry figure seen in the background in front of the bow of a large ship is the Electra, Earhart’s plane. All this is shown and discussed in the new Amelia Earhart documentary called Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. The documentary implies that Earhart crashed in the Marshall Islands and was captured by the Japanese military. This could mean that the two died in Japanese custody on Saipan Island, rather than in a crash landing. However, some experts do not believe this theory and maintain that they died in a plane crash.

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Still in the Dark

amelia earhart theories

Photo: Sasha / Stringer / Getty Images

Amelia Earhart’s death still remains a mystery, and things are just as inconclusive as they were before. Says one expert, “The world was following her. So it is really someone [who] drops off the face of the earth. Naturally, everybody wants to know what happens.” With experts still in disagreement and many theories circulating about her disappearance, Amelia Earhart’s final fate is still unknown. It is a historical events that continues to fascinate people all over the world.

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