Author Archives: fasfric

Doug Boothe Photographs Jenny’s From Fairbanks to Denver

The airplane that launched American Air Power from Columbus in 1916 and 1917 remains ubiquitously in view around the country – even today, over a century after its introduction at Columbus.  FASF Advisor Doug Boothe, an official with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), travels all over the U.S. in the course of his work.  On two recent trips he thought he’d capture some of those famous First Aero aircraft with his Smartphone camera to share with us.

The above Curtiss JN-4 Jenny hangs in full display at the Fairbanks, Alaska Airport Terminal. Often in Alaska for his work, Doug Boothe thought he would snap a quick photo of this ubiquitous historic aircraft for us to enjoy.

Although the bright sunlight streaming through the skylight above this JN-4D Jenny in the B Concourse of the Denver Airport Terminal inhibited a sharper photo of the historic airplane, Doug nevertheless managed to capture it for us with his phone’s camera. Prior to this display, the same Jenny hung for many, many years in the old Stapleton Airport Terminal which serviced Denver before this new International Airport was finally completed near the end of the 20th Century.

Above are two different views of the same Curtiss Jenny, Number 65, on display at the Denver International Airport (DEN) in Colorado.  Denver International Airport finally replaced the old Stapleton Field on February 28, 1995, 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $4.8 billion, nearly $2 billion over budget.  It is interesting to note, however, that DEN is now the 6th busiest Commercial Airport in America and is the largest in total area occupied, while it also provides users with the longest public service runway in the entire country at 16,000 feet in length.

Above is Doug’s photo of the plaque explaining some of the Denver Jenny’s historic highlights, but neglecting to mention that it was the craft that gave birth to American Air Power in March of 1916, in the small New Mexican town of Columbus, some 600 miles due south-southwest of Denver.  The plaque also left out the fact that it was this same plane, when sold as surplus equipment after WWI, that helped launch the rebirth of American Civil Aviation.

      Statue of Elrey Borge “Jep” Jeppesen, American Aviation Pioneer in Main DEN Terminal which bears his name.

                                     Close up of DEN Jeppesen Terminal’s namesake, Jep Jeppesen statue.

The main terminal, including both its West and East wings, at the Denver International Airport bears the name of a dear old friend of your webmaster’s, Jep” Jeppesen Jep was born of immigrant Danish parents, dreamed as a youngster of becoming an aviator, and had his first airplane ride in the same Jenny that was made famous by the First Aero Squadron.  The first plane ever owned by Jep was none other than that same Jenny model, in which he began his first serious flying.

But that was just the beginning for this brilliant and highly creative young aviation pioneer, who, with his wife, Nadine, on days off from their jobs with the fledgling United Airlines, climbed the Rocky Mountains with an altimeter in one hand and Rand McNally road maps in the other, carefully noting the elevation of those dangerous mountain peaks.  This information was then entered in special air charts or maps the young couple designed in order to provide pilots with this critical safety data for their use while navigating America’s airways.  This process was just the beginning of what later became Jeppesen & Company, the prime makers of air navigation charts for the Airlines of America, the world, and the U.S. Navy, as well.  If you have flown somewhere on an airline, you have been safely guided along by pilots using a Jeppesen Air Navigation Chart.

                          Evening view of the Jeppesen Main Terminal at the Denver International Airport

Interior view of the main upper level concourse of the Jeppesen Terminal, a six storied 1.5 million square foot airport facility named after pioneer Airmail Pilot, Barnstormer, United Airlines Captain, and highly successful business entrepreneur, Jep Jeppesen, who spent his last years as a long time resident of Denver.  The Jeppesen Terminal’s internationally recognized peaked roof, designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects, is reflective of Colorado’s snow-capped mountains and also evokes the theme of early Colorado history when Native American teepees were located across the Great Plains, which remain part of Eastern Colorado. The catenary steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge design, supports the fabric roof.   Denver International is also known for its high pedestrian bridge connecting the Jeppesen Terminal to Concourse A, which allows travelers to view planes taxiing beneath them and from which they can view the Rocky Mountains to the West – and the high plains to the East.

 

 

 

 

 

Colonel Alan Fisher Inducted into the Society of Daedalians

FASF Members in action . . .

At the recent September monthly meeting, held in the El Paso Club atop the Chase Bank Building in downtown El Paso, the local Daedalian Flight #24 welcomed its newest member.

The welcome was officially given by former USAF pilot and long time FASF member, Flight Captain Roger Nichols, after whose father, General Franklin A. Nichols, Flight 24 was named.  General Nichols flew in WWII, was an ace, and also one of the only pilots able to get aloft to fight the attacking marauders during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941.

The Order of Daedalians Aviation fraternal society was organized by American military aviators who had fought in World War I.

The new member was none other than our own Colonel Alan Fisher, of Las Cruces, NM, who retired as an Air Force Command pilot and from his USAF career, while the commanding officer of the New Mexico State University (NMSU) AFROTC unit, the same unit commanded until 2016 by one of our current Trustees, Colonel Ira Cline. 

The two photos below were taken by another long time FASF member and fellow Daedalian, former U.S. Naval aviator, Roger Springstead.

Flight Captain Roger Nichols (L) congratulating Colonel Alan Fisher (R). Both men are long time members of the FASF.

Alan, in addition to his current occupation as an independent Pecan Grower near Las Cruces, NM, is active with the Las Cruces Composite Civil Air Patrol Squadron (CAP) and was once its commander, as well.  He is one of the CAP unit’s most active mission pilots.  The meeting at which Colonel Fisher was inducted, featured a presentation by Monica Lombraña, A.A.E., the Director of the El Paso International Airport, who is pictured (below photo) in front of her presentation’s opening screen with Flight Captain Roger Nichols.

        Roger Nichols (L) with Program Presenter, Monica Lombraña, Director of the El Paso International Airport

Modified WWII F-51 Mustang Sets New World Speed Record!

Steve Hinton on Speed Run in the F-51 “Voodoo.”

Thanks to our Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill, we’ve just learned that a highly modified F-51 North American Mustang fighter (see above photo) has just set the new world’s speed record over a four lap course at a private airfield in central Idaho.

The ship flew four laps over a three-kilometer course at an average speed of 531.53 MPH – the fastest lap was 554 MPH in the highly modified F-51 Mustang. Aerodynamic wing modifications by Aviation Partners, Inc. played a key role in achieving the absolute world speed record over the 3-kilometer course.

Congratulations to Steve Hinton and the Voodoo team!!! Although he did not beat Rare Bear’s record by 1% (averaged over four runs) he did achieve the fastest speed for his weight class and, in the process, become the fastest single piston-engine, propeller-driven aircraft of all time! Below see the aerial footage of the incredible achievement.

Sitting proudly in its hangar, is a full front view of the Voodoo.

Here’s a short (1:30) video of the speed runs which set the new speed record.

For some exceptional photographs of this pilot and plane, visit:

The Vintage Aviation Echo.

Steve Hinton, the exceptional pilot who has won the Unlimited Class in the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, multiple times, added his name to the record books this week as he broke the speed record for an internal combustion engine-powered airplane, Class C-1e, on a 3 km closed course. Hinton was flying a highly-modified P-51 Mustang named Voodoo, the airplane he has raced in Reno for the past few years.

 

Wright’s Drone Emulates Pilot’s Take-Off View From Airfield

Bob Wright, FASF Airfield Security Chief, flies his video equipped drone along the same pathway flown by Jenny pilots from FAS Airfield a century ago.  Since the prevailing wind direction at the Airfield is from the West, Bob took off into that wind – climbing to the West.

Bob added specific historical facts in his titling of this short (3:35) video.  The film depicts the scene that would typically have been witnessed by First Aero Pilots, while departing on their missions from their Airfield here in Columbus in 1916 and 1917.

Bob also carefully emulated the rate of climb one of the First Aero’s pilots would have experienced while taking off during the hot Columbus Summer months a century ago – which was a quite a slow rate of climb, especially when compared to almost any modern airplane.

While some of the buildings you will see passing under the Jenny (Drone) are new since 1917, many of them remain from the historic days of a century ago, although the densely populated Fort Columbus (later renamed Camp Furlong) with it many tents and shacks, is no longer extant.  But the skyline and the historic black water tower were here during the historic days during which the First Aero Squadron flew its many combat sorties deep into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa and his Villistas.

The several red/orange roofed buildings, seen at 2:33 in the video, are actually structures of the 1917 Army encampment. These buildings are now in use at the local Pancho Villa State Park and often used by the FASF to make some of its local and numerous historical presentations.

An interesting environmental sidelight to this simulated take-off of a Jenny, is that the fairly dense mesquite and sage brush seen below were not the predominant ground cover of a century ago, While you’ll notice the runway created by the Foundation as the Drone takes off, there were no runways in 1916 or 1917, because runways had yet to be invented!  Rather, a century ago, the entire rectangularly shaped Airfield was completely cleared of its airplane unfriendly – and dangerous – ground cover.

While there was a great deal of sage brush and open range grass discovered where the Airfield had to be located, there was very little of the mesquite present.  Had there been as much mesquite as we see around Columbus, today, clearing the airfield would have been much, much more difficult, since the mesquite has extremely deep roots and the absence of modern day tractors would have meant that clearing would have had to have been done by multiple horse drawn field-clearing plows.  Heavy grazing by cattle during the intervening years removed most of the desert grass cover.  It has been suggested by some local environmentalists that the cows may have been the animals (many coming from neighboring mesquite covered Texas), that introduced the mesquite to the area’s desert landscape. 

DON’T HESITATE TO OPEN THE VIDEO TO FULL SCREEN, because Bob shot the film in HD!

INT’L. CESSNA 170 ASSOCIATION MEMBERS VISIT AIRFIELD!

48 Years ago, Bill Wehner, one of the original founders of the First Aero Squadron Foundation, and another friend, both Cessna 170 owners, joined forces to organize an association of this classic airplane’s owners and enthusiasts.

Today that group, called the INTERNATIONAL CESSNA 170 ASSOCIATION boasts over 1,000 members, from not just the U.S., but abroad as well.  This summer, on July 9, the Cessna group held its annual convention in nearby Deming, NM, only 30 miles North of Columbus.  One of the highlights of the convention was a visit, on July 13th, to Columbus to see, first hand, the Historic First Aero Squadron’s 1916-17 Army Airfield, where American Air Power was born.

Bill’s widow was co-organizer of this July Association gathering, and made arrangements for the conventioneers to visit each of Columbus’ principal historic sites: Pancho Villa State Park, The Columbus Historical Society’s Famed Depot Museum – – – and the FAS 19166-17 Airfield.

Bob Wright, retired U.S. Army Aviation Services veteran, former Fire Chief of Columbus, and now the FASF’s Chief of Airfield Security, arranged to operate his video empowered Drone over the field at the time of the Association’s visit in order to provide a memento for the out of town guests (including several FASF members), of their visit to see the historic Airfield.  The 2 minute 34 second (2:34) silent video below depicts this first-time visit by the Cessna enthusiast group. Don’t hesitate to open the video (it was shot in HD) to full-page-size for better viewing.

Notice that Bob is operating his Drone near the rear of the light blue colored car in the far right of the below video.  He even encouraged several of the lady 170 club members fly the Drone, as you might notice later in the clip.  You can also see some of the visitors looking up at and waving at the Drone’s Video camera.

The FASF and Bob dedicate this video to the Int’l. Cessna 170 Association and its members!

Villezcas and Lambart Recruited into CAP by Col. Alan Fisher

Colonel Alan Fisher (USAF Retired), an active member of the Las Cruces, NM 024 CAP Squadron (L) with Ric Lambart (R) of the First Aero Squadron. They are standing by one the CAP Squadron’s two Cessna 182 Skylane Search and Rescue aircraft.   Colonel Fisher is holding (yellow device) an Emergency Locator finding device, used to locate crashed airplanes. The CAP Squadron 024 is a Composite Squadron, which means that it has both Senior Members (Adults) as well as youth or “Cadet” members.  Colonel Fisher is one of the FASF’s earliest members and, before retiring from the USAF, commanded the USAF ROTC, Detachment 505, until two years ago, commanded by FASF Trustee, Col. Ira Cline.

Alma Villezcas, (below center) the Treasurer of the FASF, was recruited into the CAP Composite Squadron 024, located at the Las Cruces, NM Airport, by Col. Fisher,  at the same time as was Ric Lambart.

CAP Cadet Technical Sergeant Michael Fry (L) explains cockpit layout to Alma Villezcas and her son, Kevin (far right).  Alma and Kevin attended one of the recent training sessions at Squadron 024’s Las Cruces, NM headquarters, where they were briefed and familiarized with the numerous major CAP Squadron’s equipment.

For those of our visitors and members not familiar with the CAP (Civil Air Patrol), it was first organized only a week prior to the entry of the U.S. into WWII.

Here is its brief history:

WWII photo of female CAP Pilot standing by a 1939 era Stinson Airplane.

“Since the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP’s) formation during the earliest days of World War II, this vigilant organization of citizen Airmen has been committed to service to America. Founded on Dec. 1, 1941, as a way to protect the nation’s shorelines from invading German U-boats, the CAP has evolved into a premier public service organization that still carries out emergency service missions when needed – – –  in the air – – – and on the ground.

As a Total Force partner and Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol is there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe.
Its 56,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace/STEM education and by helping shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.
The CAP’s missions for America are many, and today’s adults and cadets perform their duties with the same vigilance as its founding members — preserving CAP’s 75-year legacy of service while maintaining its commitment to nearly 1,500 communities nationwide.
Today, the CAP has three (3) basic missions:

1)  Aero Space Education:

CAP Cadets with their small scale rockets during a CAP rocketry training program

CAP’s aerospace education efforts focus on two different audiences: volunteer CAP members and the general public.  The programs ensure that all CAP members (seniors and cadets) have an appreciation for and knowledge of aerospace issues.  To advance within the organization, members are required to participate in the educational program.  Aerospace educators at CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., provide current materials that reflect the highest standards of educational excellence.  Aerospace education is divided into two parts:

Internal and External.

The Internal aerospace education (“AE”) program has two parts as well: Cadet and Senior. Cadets complete aerospace education as one of the requirements to progress through the  achievement levels of the cadet program. Senior members have a responsibility to become knowledgeable about aerospace issues and the AE program that CAP provides. They are further encouraged to share the information obtained with their local communities and school systems.

CAP’s external aerospace programs are conducted through our nation’s educational system.  Each year, CAP sponsors many workshops in states across the nation, reaching hundreds of educators and thereby thousands of young people.  These workshops highlight basic aerospace knowledge and focus on advances in aerospace technology.  CAP’s aerospace education members receive more than 20 free aerospace education classroom materials.

To learn more about CAP’s aerospace education programs, products, and other resources available to our members, go to www.capmembers.com/ae.  For information about joining as an aerospace education member (AEM) and to join online, go to www.capmembers.com/joinaem.

2)  Cadet Programs:

CAP Cadets at work during training session.

While there are many youth oriented programs in America today, the CAP’s cadet program is unique in that it uses aviation as a cornerstone.

Thousands of young people from 12 years through age 21 are introduced to aviation through CAP’s cadet program. The program allows young people to progress at their own pace through a 16-step program including aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and moral leadership. Cadets compete for academic scholarships to further their studies in fields such as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics, aerospace medicine, meteorology, as well as many others. Those cadets who earn cadet officer status may enter the Air Force as an E3 (Airman First Class) rather than an E1 (Airman Basic).

Whatever your interests: survival training, flight training, photography, astronomy-there’s a place for you in CAP’s cadet program. Each year, cadets have the opportunity to participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level. Many cadets will have the opportunity to fly an airplane solo for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others will enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Still others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.

3)  Emergency Services:

Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol has continued to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency-services and operational missions.

CAP Cessna 182 Aircraft on mission

Search and Rescue   
Perhaps best known for its search-and-rescue efforts, CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Just how effective are the CAP missions? Approximately 75-100 people are saved each year by CAP members!

Disaster Relief  
Another important service CAP performs is disaster-relief operations. CAP provides air and ground transportation and an extensive communications network. Volunteer members fly disaster-relief officials to remote locations and provide manpower and leadership to local, state and national disaster-relief organizations. CAP has formal agreements with many government and humanitarian relief agencies including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Humanitarian Services  
CAP flies humanitarian missions, usually in support of the Red Cross-transporting time-sensitive medical materials including blood and human tissue, in situations where other means of transportation are not available.

photo by CAP member Capt. Rebecca Meyers. taken during search mission base at Minden, Nevada.

Air Force Support 
It’s hardly surprising that CAP performs several missions in direct support of the U.S. Air Force. Specifically, CAP conducts light transport, communications support, and low-altitude route surveys. CAP also provides orientation flights for AFROTC cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.

Counter-Drug
CAP joined the “War on Drugs” in 1986 when, pursuant to congressional authorization, CAP signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs Service offering CAP resources to help stem the flow of drugs into and within the United States.

 

Colonel Fisher would like to invite any and all interested citizens to explore membership in this historic public service organization, an enterprise which not only provides many critical public services, but one that also affords outstanding career training opportunities for its active members, both Seniors (Adult) and Juniors (or Cadet – Teenagers). Just click anywhere on this paragraph for more information on the CAP Website.

Oops – – – Did the FASF Site Get Caught With Fake News?

In an undated handout photo from the National Archives, people stand on a dock at Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands. A recent History Channel documentary claimed that the photo contains Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan and was taken after the pair disappeared on July 2, 1937. However, new evidence shows that the photograph was published in late 1935.
Photograph by U.S. National Archives, The New York Times,

Thanks to the alert eyes of Bob Avery, of Toledo, Ohio, it was brought to your editor’s attention that the story we published on July 6th of last week, one hinged almost completely on a photo allegedly showing both Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a dock in the Marshall Islands (Jaluit Island) AFTER their disappearance, may have been a major boo-boo on our part.  Somewhat shamefully, but in our weak defense, the story did NOT say the picture was dated – – – simply that it was apparently taken after the aviators were declared lost.  We were wrong.

And, just got another heads up alert from long time FASF member, Heidi Syslo, of Santa Clarita, CA, daughter of acclaimed aviatrix and journalist, Trixie Ann Schubert, that the now much seen “lost secret” photo is not what it was touted to be.  Thank your Heidi!

According to a History Channels competitor, the National Geographic Channel, that same picture was actually published several years BEFORE the famous aviatrix and Mr. Noonan dropped out of view. So, with red face and most embarrassed, we humbly apologize for automatically believing the prestigious History Channel would not err, that they would carefully vet all of their key information.  The error in the photograph’s timeline was brought to the attention of all concerned by a Japanese Blogger, Kota Yamano, who quickly, as soon as he saw the big news story about the disappearance mystery finally being solved, let it be known that the picture was actually printed in a Japanese travel book two years BEFORE the flyers’ disappearance in 1937.

Furthermore, we have to now give a hearty congratulations to one of our site followers, Mr. Mike Davis, who, if you read the Amelia story’s commentaries, claimed the History Channel story was bogus and, in his words, “Fake News!” Well, Mr. Davis, it seems you have the National Geographic Society completely behind your assertion.

Hopefully, somewhere down the road, the truth to this mystery might manage to surface, and we certainly hope it does.  We would like to point out that, even though the allegedly “new” post 1937 photo appears to have been “pre” 1937, the thesis that the lost fliers may have been captured and executed by the Japanese is not necessarily nullified by the photo’s new date revelation, it just means that the photo cannot be used to place Earhart and Noonan in that particular photograph.

But, regardless, and without further ado, here’s the complete refutal story from the National Geographic itself:  (Shall we believe that they are more accurate than the History Channel was not? )

A photograph that a recent History Channel documentary proclaimed as lost evidence that could solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance appears to have been published nearly two years before the aviator vanished in July 1937.

The pre-WWII photograph features a throng of people on a dock in Jaluit Atoll, one of the Marshall Islands. In the documentary Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, filmmakers claim that two Caucasian people in the photograph—a man standing next to a post, and a person of indeterminate sex squatting on the dock’s edge—are Earhart’s navigator Fred Noonan and Earhart herself, in the custody of the Japanese military in 1937.

However, new evidence indicates that the photograph was published in a 1935 Japanese-language travelogue about the islands of the South Pacific. As Japanese military history blogger Kota Yamano noted in a July 9 post, he found the book after searching the National Diet Library, Japan’s national library, using the term “Jaluit Atoll,” the location featured in the photograph.

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” he said in an interview with The Guardian. “I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

His search query turned up the travelogue, The Ocean’s “Lifeline”: The Condition of Our South Seas, which features the “Earhart” photograph on page 44. One translation of the caption describes a lively port that regularly hosted schooner races—with no mention of Earhart or Noonan to be found. Page 113 of the book indicates that the travelogue was published in October 1935.

Yamano’s evidence, which he says he obtained in 30 minutes, undercuts the History Channel’s claim that the famed aviator crash-landed in the Marshall Islands and became a prisoner of the Japanese military. Residents of the Marshall Islands and some Earhart enthusiasts have long touted this scenario, but many Earhart enthusiasts consider it outlandish. (Learn more about the competing theories for Earhart’s disappearance.)


Amelia Earhart stands in front of her bi-plane called “Friendship” in Newfoundland.  Taken June 14, 1928
Photograph by Getty Images

The official U.S. position is that Earhart and Noonan ran out of fuel and were lost at sea on their way to Howland Island, a tiny island in the central Pacific just north of the Equator. The island was the pair’s planned pit stop between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.

One alternate hypothesis proposes that the pair crash-landed on Nikumaroro Island, a small island 350 nautical miles away from Howland, where 1930s-era artifacts have been found. (An ongoing expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society recently sent forensic dogs, trained to sniff out human remains, to Nikumaroro. They may have found Amelia Earhart’s final resting place.)

Skepticism and Confusion Intensify

In the lead up to the documentary’s July 9 premiere, the History Channel touted the photograph, which it obtained from the U.S. National Archives, as potentially transformative evidence dating to before World War II, possibly to 1937. But ever since news of the documentary broke last week, outside experts have expressed various levels of skepticism, which has only intensified in the last 24 hours.

For its part, the U.S. National Archives notes that the photograph used by the filmmakers is not marked with a date. “The materials gathered in the report support a geographical-type study or survey of the Pacific Islands,” National Archives Director of Public and Media Communications James Pratchett said in a statement emailed to National Geographic.

Tom King, the chief archaeologist for TIGHAR, the chief group investigating the possibility of Earhart crash-landing on Nikumaroro, says that he has known of the photograph for years and never took it seriously as evidence.

“We looked at it and said, ‘Well, it’s a man and a woman on a dock looking out in the other direction—it’s basically a meaningless piece of information,'” he says in a phone interview from an ongoing TIGHAR expedition in Fiji. “You can read things into it like you can read faces on the moon.” (King’s current expedition was co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society.)

And in the wake of Yamano’s evidence, the History Channel and the documentary’s on-screen personalities have expressed various forms of concern and disbelief.

“I don’t know what to say,” says Kent Gibson, the facial-recognition expert that the History Channel hired to analyze the photograph for Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. “I don’t have an explanation for why [the photograph] would show up two years early.”

In the documentary, Gibson said that based on the facial and body proportions of the two Caucasians, he said it was “very likely” that the photograph contained Earhart and Noonan.

In a phone interview with National Geographic, Gibson added that since the documentary filmed, he has acquired new facial-recognition software that signals a match between the photograph’s Caucasian man and Fred Noonan. His previous software had indicated that there were too few pixels in the photograph to successfully perform the analysis. (In a follow-up email, Gibson declined additional comment.)

In a statement emailed to National Geographic and separately posted to Twitter, the History Channel said that it has a team of investigators “exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart,” promising transparency in their findings.

“Ultimately historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers,” the channel said.