(CNN)A newly discovered photo which was claimed to hold the key to the 80-year-old mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance may have been published two years before she vanished, new evidence suggests.
The blurry photo, used in a History Channel documentary, was alleged to show the groundbreaking pilot and her navigator Fred Noonan alive and well on a dock in the Marshall Islands in 1937.
But two bloggers say they have found the photo in a Japanese coffee table book dated 1935 — when Earhart was safely in the United States.
The bloggers claim the photo was originally published in a travel book titled”Naval life line; the view of our South Pacific: Photo album of Southern Pacific Islands.”
It appeared to add credence to one theory that she was captured by the Japanese army, as the Marshall Islands were administrated by Japan between the two World Wars.
The photo was the focus of a two-hour documentary special on the History Channel, titled “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence.”
But almost immediately questions were raised over what the photo actually showed, with Dorothy Cochrane, curator for the Aeronautics Department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum telling CNN she wasn’t convinced.
“People take photos and interpret them, and they’re free to do that. It has not persuaded me.”
Holly, the blogger, said the lack of Japanese soldiers on the dock suggested it was not taken in 1937.
“The entire life of the Marshallese was changing. Then in 1937 the war on China and military activities in the Marshall Islands (by the Japanese). There is not a Japanese person on that dock. If it was 1937, there would be Japanese soldiers there,” he said.
She’d already become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone in May 1932 and so when she embarked on an around-the-world voyage it was headline news.
“For more than a month, millions of people followed the world flight and so, when she and Noonan disappeared en route from Lae, New Guinea, to tiny Howland Island, it was naturally front-page and heart-breaking news,” Cochrane said.