MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jim Crowder of St. Paul believes there is enough evidence out there that not only proves aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart survived her plane’s crash into the south Pacific Ocean, but she was also captured by the Japanese.
That theory appeared further strengthened in a July 2 History Channel special report called “Amelia Earhart, The Lost Evidence,” that reveals a what was believed to be long-lost Office of Naval Intelligence photograph appearing to show Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a boat dock on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“Two days ago, I would have said that it changed the conversation dramatically,” said Crowder, a member of the Amelia Earhart Research Association.
Less than a week after the documentary aired, two bloggers claimed to have evidence that the photo was in a coffee table book printed in 1935.
Earhart, who lived in St. Paul for a short time and attended Central High School at age 16 during the 1913-14 school year, vanished on June 2, 1937.
Despite the long-held belief that Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10 Electra ran out of fuel and crashed — killing the two people onboard — and a statement from the National Archives that the Japanese offered to help and then joined in the search efforts, no trace of the plane has been found, leading some to feel it’s still a mystery what happened.
The speculation keeps many like Crowder spellbound.
“I believe there are people who want to make sure that it never ends,” he said.
That’s because Crowder is convinced some governments, including the United States, don’t want anyone to know the true story.
“There is some evidence of a coverup,” Crowder said.
Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the earth in a grueling 29,000-mile flight near the equator when the plane disappeared from radar while it was over Howland Island.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was still more than four years away, but there was rising tension between the U.S. and the Japanese Empire.
“It’s possible, through Amelia Earhart’s relationship with [First Lady] Eleanor Roosevelt, that she may have been asked to fly over Japan’s naval headquarters on the island of Truk on the way to Howland Island,” Crowder said.
He is also certain the Japanese would not want any information made public that they were responsible for the fate of Earhart and Noonan.
“Given the relationship that the United States and Japan now have, and the importance of that,” he said.
Crowder’s interest in Earhart and her lost flight began when he was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Marshall Islands and Saipan.
He personally met with a group of people who claimed to have first-hand witness accounts.
“These [witnesses] included members of the society who were prominent positions, who I cannot believe would have made this up,” he said.
Crowder points out at the time of Earhart’s disappearance, there were no other Caucasians living on the Marshall Islands, making any misidentification unlikely.
“It’s just difficult for me to believe that this could not be what happened,” he said.
Crowder is planning to travel to the South Pacific within the next 12 months for some additional research. He had been scheduled to assist the History Channel for this month’s program, but was unable to join the crew.
“We hope that the more evidence that piles up, the more likely this is going to catch hold and people are going to start to realize that this is, in fact, what did occur,” he said.