Any clue about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart should thrill Ric Gillespie, who's spent nearly three decades trying to solve the 80-year-old case. But a lost photograph included in a History documentary, which purportedly shows that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan survived a 1937 plane crash in the Marshall Islands, is actually rather dull, Gillespie says. The head of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) tells TMZ he's known about the photo for a year but doesn't believe it shows Earhart or Noonan. Of course, a photo proving the pair reached the Marshall Islands would put a damper on TIGHAR's search for Earhart's bones on Nikumaroro. But Gillespie says the overall evidence disputes the documentary's theory.
For one thing, Earhart's plane didn't have enough fuel to reach the Marshall Islands after taking off from New Guinea, Gillespie says. He adds that the photo simply shows two indistinguishable white people in an area known to host missionaries at the time. It's "absolute myth," he tells USA Today. Dorothy Cochrane of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum isn't 100% against the idea that Earhart and Noonan crashed in the Marshall Islands, were taken captive by the Japanese military, and later died in Saipan—a theory that's percolated since the 1960s, per the Guardian. But she says she "can't really comment definitively" on a "blurry photograph," per Smithsonian, and suggests investigators instead stick to the facts known so far. (One theory claims Earhart lived to be 86.)