Mad for plaid: Earhart was all smiles in March of 1937 (above) when she took off from Los Angeles on her planned circumnavigation of the globe Heavy metal: The legendary aviator was last heard from on July 2 of that year, noting the poor visibility and her declining gas levels in a series of transmissions that morning. Some experts believe a recently discovered picture shows Amelia Earhart alive and in Japanese custody after she vanished in 1937 on a trip around the world. It’s a tantalizing possibility for Earhart fans, including those who gathered at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Wednesday. “This is one of the great mysteries of the 20th century,” A photograph discovered in the U.S. National Archives may add weight to the theory that Amelia Earhart survived a landing in the Marshall Islands and was taken captive by the Japanese. The photo shows a picture of a woman who appears to be Amelia Earhart and a man that looks like her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, after their crash, according to a History Channel special dubbed Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, which airs Sunday. The photo and other details that point to Earhart’s capture by the Japanese are detailed in the two-hour special. The show features former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry as he investigates evidence supporting the theory that Earhart crash-landed in the Marshall Islands and eventually died in Japanese custody on the island of Saipan. The photo was likely taken by someone who was spying on the Japanese for the U.S., according to the special. The show highlights additional evidence, including plane parts found on the Marshall Islands that appear to be like those on the plane Earhart flew in 1937, and an eyewitness who claims to have seen Earhart and Noonan after they supposedly perished. Japanese authorities told NBC that there are no records indicating that Earhart was in Japanese custody. The photo shows a woman with short hair, much like Earhart’s cut, sitting on a dock with her back to the camera. A man, who looks like Noonan is standing a short distance behind her. Kent Gibson, a facial recognition expert, who studied the photo, said in the History Channel special that it’s “very convincing evidence” that the photo is of Noonan. “The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic,” Gibson said. “It’s a very sharp receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.” The theory is far from the only speculation about what happened to Earhart after her disappearance on July 2, 1937. The History Channel special airs on the heels of another high-profile investigation into Earhart’s demise. A team of researchers is currently using bone-sniffing dogs in hopes of finding Earhart’s remains on a remote Pacific island, where they believe she may have died as a castaway. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) hopes to find bones on the island of Nikumaroro, which could prove whether the castaway theory is correct once and for all. Even if DNA analysis proves their theory is correct, people will likely still hold on to whatever theory they believe about Earhart’s disappearance, according to Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, who wrote Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance. “It’s such an iconic mystery, and people hold on to that mystery,” he said. “They love the mystery.” A recently-discovered photograph is turning the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s 1937 disappearance on its head, leading a handful of experts to believe the celebrated aviator and women’s rights role model actually survived her final flight. WWII Veteran Art Crino claims that Amelia Earhart was captured and executed in Saipan, which was under control by the Japanese since WWI until it was recaptured by the United States in 1944. One of the reasons that Crino believes in Earhart’s demise derives from his personal experience in Saipan during his time serving during WWII. He also believes that Earhart may have been serving as a spy for the United States, having a spy camera equipped on her plane. Josephine Blanco Akiyama (left) was 12 years old and living in Saipan (right) when she claims to have seen Earhart being hauled away by the Japanese in July 1937 after crashing her plane. A woman who lived in Saipan as a child at the time Amelia Earhart vanished has long claimed she saw the US aviator alive and being taken into Japanese custody. Josephine Blanco Akiyama, now a resident of California, was 12 years old when she claims to have seen Earhart being hauled away by the Japanese in Saipan in July 1937 after the aviator is believed to have crashed her plane into the Pacific Ocean. Akiyama’s claims have added yet another element to the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance while she was attempting the first round-the-world flight 80 years ago this month. ‘I didn’t even know it’s a woman, I thought it’s a man,’ Akiyama told NBC’s Today on Thursday. ‘Everybody was talking about her but they were talking in Japanese – that’s why I know that she’s a woman. They were talking about a woman flyer.’ Akiyama claims she later learned Earhart had been executed. It comes after a fuzzy photograph made headlines this week, claiming yet another remarkable theory about Earhart’s disappearance. The disappearance of Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan on July 2, 1937, in the Western Pacific Ocean has gained legendary status among the age’s unsolved mysteries. She is believed to have crashed after noting the poor visibility and her declining gas levels in a series of transmissions earlier that morning. Josephine Blanco Akiyama (above) was 12 years old and living in Saipan (right) when she claims to have seen Earhart being hauled away by the Japanese in July 1937 after crashing her plane. She saw Earhart being hauled away by the Japanese in July 1937 after crashing her plane. A documentary is claiming that an image appears to show Amelia Earhart (sitting center) after she vanished from the sky in July of 1937 The documentary claims that Earhart and Noonan stand out as the only two Westerners in the photo, which the government had stored away in their National Archive The alleged details of Earhart’s final flight, and where she is believed to have ended up based on different theories over the years A two-hour History channel documentary – Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence – suggests the photo shows Earhart with Noonan on a jetty on a Pacific island back in 1937 after they were believed to have perished at sea. There are claims the image was taken the same year that Earhart went missing in the vicinity of the island chain. It shows a person, claimed to be that of Earhart, being photographed from behind as she sat on a jetty looking out to the ocean. A crippled plane can also be seen on the far right being dragged by a large ship. A man tipped to be Noonan can be seen standing nearby. The faces of the two cannot be seen, but their profiles do bear a striking similarity to the pair. It has been claimed that the photographer was a US spy or emissary operating behind enemy lines in the Pacific. A facial recognition expert said that it is likely Earhart and Noonan in the photo, which was discovered in the National Archive by retired federal agent Les Kinney. But investigators told MailOnline a year ago that the photo could not be that of Earhart because it was among a batch of pictures taken after 1940 – three years after Earhart vanished. Share this: Twitter Facebook More Google Comments are closed.