At 00.41 local time on the morning of 7th March this year Malaysian Airways Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled flight to Beijing, it climbed steadily to its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet and just 38 minutes later, the pilot responded to a send-off call. This was the last anyone has seen or heard of the plane since. When the crew did not make the expected call to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control as the plane passed into Vietnamese airspace, that contact was not made and the mystery began to develop. The pilot of another aircraft attempted to contact MH370 using the International Distress Frequency, requesting that the crew contact Vietnamese Air Traffic Control. Further calls an hour later and 6 hours later were acknowledge by the aircraft’s automatic satellite data system, but no reply was forthcoming from the crew. The flight was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.
Four months later, on July 17th, Malaysian Airways MH17 left Amsterdam on a scheduled flight to Kuala Lumpur, it was 10.14 UTC. Just two hours later as it cruised at 33,000 feet over Ukraine, all contact was lost. The plane had been hit by a Buk surface to air missile, probably fired by pro- Russian separatists. Eye witnesses have confirmed seeing a Buk missile launcher, others saw the plane as it fell from the sky. In all, 298 passengers and crew were killed.
After the first incident, rumour and counter rumour were rife. The conspiracy theorists have had a field day and the families of 239 people have been through hell. Losing a loved one is bad enough. Not knowing what happened to them is worse and having that loss chewed over on the internet by some of the weirder storytellers, is even more painful. When the second plane went down, the fact that it was the same airline, caused these conspiracists to go into overdrive. Websites from Sydney to San Francisco claimed government involvement, massive cover up and subterfuge at every level.
Let’s look at the facts. Two aircraft belonging to the same airline were lost with the collective deaths of 537 individuals. The only other common factors are that they were the same make and model, Boeing 777, and one was flying out of Kuala Lumpur whilst the other was flying in. These simple facts are the truth, unfortunately this is about the only truth we know. The rest is supposition, rumour, fairy stories and downright lies. Among these ridiculous conspiracy theories were one that the Ukrainians did it, trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin; Another that it was shot down to hide some hidden truth about Aids (there were 6 people on board going to an Aids conference in Melbourne. Such is the nature of these things that originally the internet was full of stories that there were 100 delegates from the conference on board; and the daftest of the lot, that is was the Illuminati. Dan Brown has a lot to answer for.
People have speculated that it is impossible to lose a passenger aircraft in this day and age without knowing what happened to it. This simply is not true and there are precedents. No less than seven actually. Here are some of the more intriguing ones. In 1979 A Varig Airlines Cargo plane Took off from Tokyo carrying a cargo of valuable paintings, it disappeared without trace just 30 minutes later and has never been found. In 2003 a Boeing 727-233 took off from Quatro de Fevereiro Airport in Luanda in Angola, without clearance headed off towards the Atlantic Ocean and has never been since since. The two men believed to be on board are thought to be unable to have flown the aircraft. In 2009 an Air France flight from Rio crashed into the sea killing 228 passengers and crew. Some wreckage was found but no bodies were ever recovered. It took three full years of investigation to determine that the cause of the crash was a build up of ice on the wings. All this despite recovering the flight recorders.
Ever since The early days of flight, there have been mysterious disappearances, the great pioneer of aviation Amelia Earhart being the most notable.The fact is, we live on a big planet, two thirds of which is covered by ocean. To search even a relatively small area of the sea is incredibly difficult, to search areas of hundreds of square miles, is almost impossible. Once a plane has sunk, it would be quite frankly more likely not to find it, than find it.
The second lost flight is of course easier to understand. Rebel fighters using equipment that they can barely understand shot down, what they thought was a ‘legitimate’ target. They picked up a flight and in their haste to claim a victory, they assumed it was belonging to their enemy. There are recorded radio messages of them celebrating the hit, before realising that it was a passengers jet, then trying to switch the story to hide the awful truth of their deed.
None of this of course is of any consequence to the conspiracy theorists who will see mystery, subterfuge and government plot in anything. These are of course the same people who believed a B52 bomber had once been found on the moon, courtesy of a silly story in the British newspaper, the Daily Sport. One of the more bizarre stories circulating is that the two aircraft were in fact one and the same plane. Photographic ‘proof’ and ‘insider stories’ have been laying claim to this little plot. The fact the two sets of grieving families on two different continents have lost loved ones doesn’t seem to slow the nonsense down. Are we seriously to believe that a government plot killed hundreds of people deliberately and lied about there whereabouts? Ors should we believe that all the passengers and crew from one of the flights have been whisked away to an island somewhere and hidden from the truth? That could almost be the plot from a TV show. Oh wait! It was.
The truth is not always as romantic, not always as glamorous and certainly not always as exciting. The sad fact though is, that we should be putting people’s feelings and finding the real truth ahead of peddling tittle tattle in an attempt at gaining some sort of notoriety. These unfortunate people deserve some closure, that will never come whilst the rumour mill is turning at its current rate.