Jul 10th, 2017

Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence – A Critique

Posted in Aviation News

Last night I viewed the documentary Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence and saw the photo that has been found, which indicates that she may have survived her final flight.  I first blogged on the photo a few hours after the story broke: https://www.doctoraviation.com/amelia-earhart-found/    Below are my initial thoughts after viewing the documentary in full.

This is a link to the photo identifying important facets:  https://ewedit.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/amelia-graphic.jpg?w=2000

The documentary actually spent very little time with the photo.  One of my initial questions is how could they place the location and date of the photo to 1937 in the Marshall Islands.  The question was answered when a former US government employee, Les Kinney, shared the photo he states he found in the National Archives. It had been clearly labeled with the location.

The next question on most people’s minds: “Has the photo been tampered with”?  I was impressed with the six different tests used to check for tampering.  The photo passed all six tests, indicating that it has not been doctored.

One of the key facets of linking the photo to Earhart was matching her back to the back of the individual sitting on the dock.  The expert apparently used three different photos (shown in the interview).  Ironically, the best match appeared to be from a motion picture of Earhart emerging from the top of the aircraft earlier in her life.  The producers used this “match” frequently as they returned from five minute commercial breaks.  Interestingly, the photo expert did not choose to use this image (at least that he shared).  It could be due to the fact that it was from a motion picture.

I would love to know who took the photo, but the documentary did not take up this question.

Concerning the photo itself, I was most impressed with the portion of the photo dealing with the Koshu, a Japanese vessel towing an object.  This is the same vessel depicted in the stamps issued by the Marshall Islands in the 1980s based on locals’ accounts of the event some forty plus years after the fact.  The dimensions of the Koshu are well documented.  The distance between the decks is 8 feet.  With this as a baseline, they were able to place the length of the object being towed at 38 feet.  The Lockheed Electra (Earhart’s plane) was 38 feet, 7 inches.  This was very strong evidence that it may have indeed been the Electra.

I should add that a man named Mike Campbell, who worked both for the US Navy and the US Air Force and who has been investigating the Earhart case since the 1980s, highly questions the validity of the photo, but not the Marshall Island landing.  His main critique:  If Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese, where are the armed military guards who would likely have not left their side?  His critique can be found at: https://earharttruth.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/6078/

I was a little frustrated at the beginning of the film.  Consistent with today’s fast paced, frenetic presentation of multiple images, the documentary started out choppy, in my opinion.  They seemed to be rushing the pace.  I understood better why they did so in the second hour.  Most of the thoughtful (and to this point unseen) information was presented at a more digestible pace in the second hour.

What I found most interesting as a pilot will be shared in my next blog.  I will also share my remaining questions in that post.

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