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In the televised special Henry interviews a former Islander, now in her 90s and living in California, who is described as “the last living eyewitness” to have seen Earhart and Noonan after their crash.
Henry and his team traveled to the now-crumbling, vine-choked prison cell in Saipan where they believe Earhart spent her final two years before dying in 1939, possibly from malaria or dysentery.
Not so fast, says Dorothy Cochrane, curator for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Aeronautics Department, who insists that she’s never seen any “definitive evidence” to suggest that the pair survived their final flight.
Cochrane, who as of press time had not yet seen the History Channel special, describes the idea that Earhart was taken prisoner by the Japanese as a “ridiculous theory.”
She also insists that she’s “not aware of any missing government records [on Earhart] that could be a game changer.”
Henry stands by his team’s findings but acknowledges that Kinney’s photograph and their other discoveries open up countless new questions about Earhart and Noonan’s fate.
“It is not clear why the U.S. [government] might want to cover up what happened to Amelia,” he says.
It’s all been carefully documented on the Tighar Website.
“If in fact she was spying on the Japanese, the government may not have wanted the American public to know they put ‘America’s sweetheart’ in that situation and she was captured.”