DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new clue to one of history’s greatest mysteries is exciting history buffs and Amelia Earhart fans.
History Channel investigators recently unearthed a photograph in the National Archives that some believe show the missing aviator and her navigator Fred Noonan. It’s labelled with the date 1937 in the Marshall Islands, the same year Earhart disappeared.
In the photo, a short-haired woman is sitting on a dock with her back to the camera and a man who looks strikingly similar to Noonan is smiling in the corner.
Thursday at the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, there was some buzz around Earhart’s display and placard.
Two young girls from Richmond, Indiana were at the museum for a field trip with the Boys and Girls Club. Both giggled that Earhart was their hero.
Isabella Browning said, “I just think that she had the courage to do something that no other girl had done before.”
Earhart and her navigator Noonan disappeared in 1937 while the skilled pilot attempted to become the first woman to circle the globe. The U.S. government officially declared her dead two years later, presuming she crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
No wreckage was ever discovered and the mystery sparked several theories.
A chaperone with a group at the Aviation Hall of Fame Thursday speculated, “She crashed in the Bermuda Triangle or something and then somehow survived got picked up by fishermen.”
Popular opinion was that Earhart crashed and died, but the newly discovered photo is flipping that narrative.
In a new History Channel special “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” investigators said they’re confident the picture is legitimate. A face recognition expert compared the man in the photo with Noonan’s face and Earhart’s bone structure with the woman facing away from the camera.
Carillon Park president and C.E.O. Brady Kress said Thursday the possibility of cracking the 80 year old mystery is an exciting revelation.
Kress said, “When something comes around that’s found that affects how that story is told and how it played out, it’s very exciting because it could change the history books.”
Near the entrance of Carillon Park, the museum displays a photo of Earhart and explains her Dayton connection. The pioneering female aviator was friends with Orville Wright and would visit him at his Dayton home. In the photo, she’s christening Wright’s Hudson Essex-Terraplane; the first of its kind automobile off of the production line.
Kress said the breakthrough in the case piqued in his interest and he plans to watch for more developments.
Young fans at the Hall of Fame agree. Browning and her friend Avah Morgan White said they’re rooting for a resolution to the mystery.
“My mind would be blown,” Browning said.
“I’d be so curious to see what happened,” White agreed.