The History Channel on cable has been a favorite of mine for decades. I always like to learn more about the past, and they have done some truly great programming.
Their reality based programming, with the exception of “The Curse of Oak Island,” has been a disappointment for me. I really don’t care about swamp people or ice road truckers.
This week, the channel had a documentary about what happened to Amelia Earhart, the pioneering woman aviator that vanished in the South Pacific 80 years on July 2. Earhart was attempting to be the first woman to fly around the world.
Garbled radio transmissions at the time led searchers to conclude that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan ran out of gasoline and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. What happened to Earhart and Noonan has been theorized about at length for decades.
The documentary explored evidence that has surfaced in U.S. government archives suggesting Earhart might not have crashed into the Pacific at all, but crash-landed in the Marshall Islands, was captured by the Japanese military and died while being held prisoner on the island of Saipan.
A photo found by accident in the National Archives has been enhanced. It appears to show Noonan and Earhart at the Marshall Islands, with a Japanese boat in the background towing a barge with something that could be Earhart’s plane.
The war with Japan has been over for over seven decades. There is nothing to be gained by either the USA or Japan withholding any information. But the flip side of that argument is that it has been 80 years since Earhart and Noonan disappeared. Anyone who may have been a credible witness is more than likely dead.
A second series on History, “American Ripper,” looks to link the unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper in London by proving that Herman Mudgett, alias H.H. Holmes, known as America’s first serial killer, committed the Ripper murders.
The History Channel’s website describes the series this way:
“Herman Mudgett, alias H.H. Holmes, was America’s first serial killer. No one knows for sure how many lives he took, but it’s believed he was responsible for killing as many as 200 people in the late 19th century. A con man, opportunist and evil genius, the crowning achievement of his dark deeds was the construction of a building later dubbed the Murder Castle: a hotel on Chicago’s south side that he engineered to be a factory of death, complete with a gas chamber, dissection room, trap doors and a basement furnace to destroy any trace of his sinister work. At the same time across the Atlantic, a killer was terrorizing the streets of London, murdering and mutilating at least five victims in the Whitechapel area of the city. To this day, the killer has never been caught or identified. He is known as Jack the Ripper. In American Ripper, Holmes’ great-great-grandson, Jeff Mudgett, sets out to prove a controversial theory: that H.H. Holmes and Britain’s most notorious serial killer, Jack The Ripper, were the same man. After twenty years searching for the truth about his notorious ancestor, Mudgett partners with ex-CIA analyst Amaryllis Fox to launch an all new investigation, using 21st century science and methodology to unlock the secrets of one of the biggest cold cases of all time.”
Again, it was a long time ago and connecting these dots will be an interesting exercise.
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