It has been 80 years since world-renowned pilot Amelia Earhart vanished while on her around-the-world flight, and a new photo might be the missing link in unraveling the mystery of her disappearance.
At the time of her disappearance, it was widely believed Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan crashed her plane in the South Pacific after running out of fuel. In a new documentary airing Sunday, July 9 on the History Channel, former FBI official Shawn Henry attempts to answer the questions surrounding the mystery of Earhart's vanishing -- and makes the claim that she could have survived a crash.
On July 2, 1937, a then 39-year-old Earhart and Noonan were flying east from Papua New Guinea on the final leg of her global journey. In what is now believed to be her final radio communication, Earhart then expressed concern about her fuel levels, saying "Gas is running low."
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"Have been unable to reach you by radio," Earhart said. "We're flying at 1,000 feet."
In the soon-to-air documentary, "Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence," Henry points to a recently-discovered photograph believed to feature Earhart on a remote atoll in the South Pacific in offering the theory that Earhart landed her famed Lockheed Electra safely, but was then captured by the Japanese Military.
"This absolutely changes history," Henry tells PEOPLE Magazine. "I think we proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she survived her flight and was held prisoner by the Japanese on the island of Saipan, where she eventually died."
Henry led an investigative team in examining a range of evidence as part of their research for the documentary and says the theory that the pair may have been held captive in Japan has been floated for decades, but the new photograph unearthed by retired U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney in 2012 and just now made public in the documentary aides in making that more plausible an occurrence.