“Malaysian plane mystery is like trying to solve a crime without a body, witness, motive,” read the title of article carried by the Associated Press on March 19, 2014, with regard to the befuddling disappearance of Malaysian Air Flight 370 on March 8, 2014.
We all know the story: The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport, when it lost contact with air traffic control less than an hour after take-off and seemed to vanish into thin air. Furthermore, its last contact with ground control indicated no problems or untoward incidents. The aircraft carried 12 crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations, the majority of passengers being Chinese citizens. Satellite imagery which picked up the craft’s blips later on led experts to conclude that that the plane made a “sharp left, in a seeming effort to turn around, and was flying for another 6 hours after losing contact. Where the plane was headed, or what became of it and the passengers, remains unsolved.
The plot has, unfortunately, neither thickened nor developed since then; with leads resulting in dead ends and a massive search – with the aid of countries from around the globe – across oceans turning up nothing, thus far. Meantime, families and friends of those on board remain in anguish over the uncertain and perplexing conditions surrounding the whereabouts of their loved ones. Anguish has turned into anger over what has been criticized as a lack of efficiency and transparency in dealing with the crisis on the part airline and of the Malaysian government.
As can be expected, several theories have emerged, as the world waits with bated breath for the outcome of the strange turn of events. Experts, common folk, and crazies alike have all shared their two-cent’s worth. The thought of something so large, disappearing as though by some magician’s final act (in the presence of seemingly slight-of-hand-proof modern hi-tech gadgetry and equipment, at that) presents a conundrum that many have tried to explain away.
Majority of these theories center on very believable scenarios: a crash due to mechanical failure or pilot suicide; an electrical fire resulting in failure of all communications gadgets, and causing all on board to pass out from smoke inhalation, thereby leaving the plane on auto pilot until it eventually crashed; a terrorist bombing, piracy, and/or a hijacking. The piracy or hijacking theory could also mean that the plane and those on board could have been flown to a yet unknown destination.
Then there are those theories that are far out there; pushing the limits of credence and reason:
- UFO and / or alien abduction, the biggest proponent of which is Forbidden Knowledge TV, a website dedicated to the publicizing of unreported and underreported extraterrestrial activity. This theory is based on footage supposedly captured and uploaded to YouTube by user DAHBOO7. A representative of FKTV says that radar readings in the clip “captured signals from what for now, can only be termed a UFO”. UFO experts have acknowledged the absence of any justifiable UFO activity in the area when the plane disappeared, but also said that the “involvement of a UFO could not be ruled out.”
- A conspiracy theory revolving around American national secrets leaker, Edward Snowden. This posits that the US government might have been behind the plane’s disappearance in order to gain control of some I.T. employees of Freescale Semiconductor on board the plane; to keep the Chinese from getting to them and to another passenger on the plane, an IBM executive. IBM was one of the companies Snowden implicated in his information leaks as working with the NSA in the surveillance of China.
- The Illuminati theory. Yes, there are those who believe that it is no coincidence that (according to Wikipedia) the missing plane is the 404th 777 produced by Boeing. This is further linked to an “HTTP 404 error”, which means “Not Found,” something that was very possibly orchestrated by the elusive and mystical Illuminati.
- A new Bermuda Triangle, or a Black Hole have both been blamed by some as responsible for the plane’s disappearance.
- Then there are those politically motivated conspiracy theories, which say that either North Korea or China itself is behind the disappearance. Although the motives remain unclear.
Indeed, there is a plethora of theories making the rounds of media, both social and mainstream. In the absence of solid answers, it is difficult to say beyond a shadow of a doubt which holds water, and which is simply hogwash.
Two weeks into the disappearance, however, many are coming face-to-face with the possibility that this may very possibly go down as one of history’s greatest mysteries. And hopefully, it does not remain unsolved; a possibility with which few want to contend, but a possibility nonetheless.
This is not the first time, however, that a plane has flown off the radar, leaving a trail of questions where blips used to be. Historical records reveal other mysterious aviation disappearances (from most to least recent):
- Air France Flight 447: In 2009, this Air France Airbus A330 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All 228 passengers and crew on board perished. The bodies of seventy four passengers were never recovered. It took five days for search and rescue teams to find the wreck; it took three years for investigators to report the cause of the crash: ice crystals had caused the autopilot to disconnect.
- Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571: Forty-five passengers and crew were on board this plane to Santiago, Chile, when the craft met bad weather and crashed into the Andes. Twelve people were killed. Authorities were unable to locate the whereabouts of the plane for the next seventy-two days. Eight more survivors perished in a snow avalanche, while the sixteen who remained resorted to cannibalism to stay alive until they were found over two months after their plane vanished from the skies. The year was 1972.
- Flying Tiger Line Flight 739: In 1962, A U.S. military flight departed from Guam with ninety personnel on board. The flight was bound for the Philippines, but it never arrived. There was no distress call from the plane, and exhaustive military search operations involving more than 1,300 yielded not a single trace of wreckage. Fueling the mystery were reports from the crew of a Liberian tanker ship. The crew claimed to have seen an “intensely luminous” light in the sky at the estimated time of the flight. The U.S. Civil Aeronautics board finally ruled that it was “unable to determine the probable cause of the incident.”
- The Bermuda Triangle: Also known as the “Devil’s Triangle,” several unexplained disappearances have been related to this notorious stretch of ocean between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. In 1948 and 1949, two British South American Airways passenger jets were reported to have vanished in the region, with more than fifty-one people combined vanishing with the aircrafts. In 1945, Flight 19, composed of five American bombers on a training mission over the triangle were also lost and never recovered. The search aircraft sent to investigate the disappearances likewise vanished with thirteen crew members on board.
- A main wheel from the Star Dust, found amidst the wreckage in 2000. (Wikipedia photo)
- British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian Star Dust: In 1947, this aircraft disappeared with eleven people on board. In 1998 – over fifty years later – two Argentinean rock climbers stumbled upon engine wreckage in the Andes Mountains. An Argentine army expedition mobilized by authorities in 2000 later on found additional wreckage, and human remains, as well. Reports indicate that the plane went undiscovered because it was buried underneath snow, after the impact of its crash into Mount Tupangato caused an avalanche.
- Amelia Earhart: Perhaps the most renowned aviation disappearance the world over is the case of aviation pioneer and pro pilot, Amelia Earhart. Earhart vanished in her twin-engine monoplane Electra over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, in what would have been a complete flight around the globe. Although a multi-million dollar search was launched, her plane was never found. Earhart was officially declared dead in 1939.
Malaysian Air 370 is definitely somewhere; of that, there can be no doubt. Where that somewhere lies is another story, waiting to come to its conclusion.