Finder of potential game-changing Amelia Earhart pix tells story
Published 8:31 am Monday, July 10, 2017
NEW YORK — The retired federal agent who discovered what he believes is the first photographic evidence of Amelia Earhart alive and well after crash-landing in the Pacific Ocean during her attempted round-the-world flight says he didn’t initially capture the significance of the image until years later.
The black-and-white photo is of a group of people standing on a dock on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands, including one who seems to be a slim woman with her back to the camera. A new documentary airing Sunday on the History channel claims the figure is the famed aviator who disappeared 80 years ago this month.
Retired U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that he was looking for clues surrounding Earhart’s disappearance in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, when he found the photograph in 2012 in a box filled mostly with text documents from the Office of Naval Intelligence but “didn’t really look at it carefully” because he was looking over thousands of documents and images.
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In 2015, he took another pass at the photo. “I looked at it and I went, ‘I can’t believe this!’” He asked his wife to come over and pointed to the seated person, asking if it seemed to her to be a man or a woman. “She said, ‘It’s a woman!’” His search led him to identify the ship seen at the right apparently pulling Earhart’s plane wreckage on a barge.
The image is at the heart of the two-hour “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which argues that Earhart, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, crash-landed in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands, where they were picked up by the Japanese military and held prisoner.