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The Mystery of Amelia Earhart Might Not Have Just Been Solved, After All

The History Channel might not have done its homework before airing that special.

How the mighty have fallen? Once a bastion of educational TV, the History Channel, like so many other cable networks (I remember what TLC used to be!) has gotten a little more spurious over the years. So, when the History Channel announced that they had solved the Amelia Earhart mystery, I came in with at least a token amount of skepticism. It was warranted.

The History Channel special revolved around a lost photograph found in the National Archives, apparently of Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the Marshall Islands after the time of their disappearance. In the course of production, it looks like the people behind Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence never bothered to research when the photo was taken or where it came from, and apparently, neither of those things were hard to do — a Japanese blogger figured it all out in a half hour.

Kota Yamano didn’t buy the story that Earhart had been captured and imprisoned by Japan, so he did a little digging. After searching for photos from the Jaluit atoll in the 1930s, he found the photo in question almost immediately and discovered that it came from a photo book called Umi no seimeisen: Waga nannyou no sugata… — a photo book that was published in Japanese Palau in 1935, two years before Earhart’s disappearance.

The special, which was even hosted by a former FBI executive assistant director, looks extremely clown shoes right now. The History Channel has responded by saying they’re launching their own investigation, which they maybe should have done before airing the documentary. While the photo wasn’t the only subject of the documentary, it was the main piece of new evidence that tied everything together — if it doesn’t show Earhart, that pulls the rug all the way out from under the History Channel.

The History Channel might have also overlooked history. Matt Holly, a military blogger, also noted that the photo doesn’t appear to be from 1937 because of the lack of Japanese military presence on the dock and the lack of Japanese flags on the ships — while the photo was published in that book in 1935, Holly suggests it was likely taken in the early 1930s or even the 1920s.

Header image: Umi no seimeisen: Waga nannyou no sugata… (1935)

Via The Guardian