Amelia didn’t die but was a captured spy

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A new book about Amelia Earhart contains the controversial claim that she wasn’t really killed when her plane crashed in the middle of the Pacific in 1937 but instead was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo. She set off from Newfoundland on May 20, 1932, aiming her plane for Paris, but instead hit a field in Londonderry.

Five years later she and navigator Fred Noonan vanished without a trace during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

What happened to the duo and their twin-engine aircraft during the round-the-world bid has remained one of aviation’s enduring mysteries.

Now ‘Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave,’ by WC Jameson, which is published tomorrow, January 5, makes the controversial claim that Earhart was actually sent to the South Pacific on a surveillance operation that had been authorised by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mr Jameson claims that her plane was fitted with cameras with which to film Japanese military outposts and that she was actually shot down and taken prisoner.

He also claims that she was released in 1945 and returned to the United States under an assumed identity.

This flies in the face of the long-standing official theory that the pair ran out of fuel and crash landed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

Back in 2014 the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) said debris discovered washed up on a beach in the South Pacific 25 years ago may have come from her lost plane and that she may have lived as a castaway there or some time.

TIGHAR said it bolstered the possibility that a sonar blip off Nikumaroro atoll in Kiribati is the fuselage of her ill-starred Lockheed Electra.

In a statement, TIGHAR said the chunk of aluminium, found in 1991, strongly resembles a 48 x 58cm patch installed in place of a window on the Electra during a stopover in Florida earlier during the flight.