On a clear spring day in 1937, Amelia Earhart invited her personal photographer, Al Bresnik, to the Southern California airport where she and and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were preparing for their attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The pictures taken by Bresnik went on to become widely seen and known after Earhart's plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific ocean a few months later. But a three-and-a-half-minute video taken on a 16-millimeter camera by Bresnik's brother John faded into obscurity, until now.
The home video, stored in a plain white box labeled "Amelia Earhart, Burbank Airport, 1937," sat on a shelf in John Bresnik's home for 50 years until he died in 1992. After that, it was moved to his son's home.
"I didn't even know what was on the film until my dad died and I took it home and watched it," the younger Bresnik, also named John, told The Telegraph. Even there, it languished for about 20 years until recently. Now, The Paragon Agency publishing house is making the full video, entitled "Amelia Earhart's Last Photo Shoot," available for download along with an 80-page book of the same name. But publisher Doug Westfall said he plans to eventually donate the film to a museum or archive.
The tape is remarkable, no matter what—it shows Earhart smiling and playful as she clambers about on top of her twin-engine Electra L-10E in a fitted jumpsuit. But there is some controversy surrounding when exactly the film dates from. Nicole Swinford, who wrote the accompanying book, asserts that it was taken in May, just before Earhart embarked on the ill-fated journey. But Richard Gillespie, executive director of the International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery, thinks the film is from an earlier flight attempt that same year. In March of 1937, Earhart set out to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, but only got as far as Hawaii before she crashed and had to make repairs to her plane.
"The airplane as shown in the film is very clearly the pre-repaired airplane," Gillespie claims. But whether the video dates from March or May of 1937, it is among the last—if not the very final—footage ever taken of Amelia Earhart.
[h/t Popular Mechanics]