News > National > Unearthed Photo May Prove Amelia Earhart Survived Plane Crash

Unearthed Photo May Prove Amelia Earhart Survived Plane Crash

The newly discovered photo suggests Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, may have survived and were captured by the Japanese in the South Pacific

(CNN) -- A newly unearthed photo showing blurry figures on a dock may shed light on the 80-year-old mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart.

A new History channel documentary quotes experts who say the image shows the famed pilot survived her 1937 crash in the Pacific. But other experts told CNN they aren't convinced and say the photo is just another in a long history of unproven theories about the aviator's disappearance.

"I don't blame people for wanting to know," said Dorothy Cochrane, curator for the Aeronautics Department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "It is one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century because she was so well known."

Earhart, the pioneering aviator who became the first female pilot to sly solo across the Atlantic, famously disappeared with her navigator Fred Noonan on July 2, 1937, while attempting to fly to Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Her fate has been a figure of fascination, and professional and amateur investigators have offered many theories over the years on what happened to the daring pilot.

The photograph, recently discovered in the National Archives by former US Treasury Agent Les Kinney, allegedly shows Earhart and Noonan sitting on a dock on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

An expert in facial recognition said the hairline of a man standing at far left in the photo matches that of Noonan, while the torso measurements and short hair of a person sitting on the dock matches that of Earhart, according to a clip shown on NBC's "Today."

(PHOTO: Courtesy of Les Kinny/U.S. National Archives)

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