Following robust search and rescue efforts, Earhart was officially declared dead in absentia January 5, 1939, and the mystery of her demise has remained unsolved ever since.
Experts say that the hairline of the man standing on the far left in the photograph matches the description of Noonan and that the short-haired woman sitting on the dock is Earhart. And now this special suggests that the aviator, who'd captured the world's imagination by being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, died in a Saipan prison.
A former federal agent saying he uncovered this undated photo taken on the Marshall Islands in the National Archives.
"We knew there were going to be people questioning its validity, especially other people who have spent their lives or their careers trying to find more information on Amelia Earhart", Tarpinian said.
In the past, those who didn't believe Earhart died in the crash have suggested she and Noonan were executed by the Japanese military, which may have seen them as USA spies. Some point to similarities between the man's receding hairline and Noonan's actual appearance.
"It's my feeling that this is very convincing evidence that this is probably Noonan", he said.
In the background of the photo, the Japanese ship Koshu can be seen towing a vessel that appears to be 38 feet long - the same length as Earhart's airplane.
"The nose is very prominent".
Facial recognition expert Kent Gibson, who compared known images of Noonan and Earhart with the individuals photographed on the dock said he believed was "likely" they are the two lost aviators.
"People take photos and interpret them, and they're free to do that", Cochrane said.