MH370: the saddest and most astounding thing

A Boeing 777-200 is a big airplane, but it’s nothing compared to the vastness of the sea. Yet it is still astounding that in this day and age, with people watching realtime air traffic on their laptops while sipping their morning coffee and being able to track aircraft overhead by pointing their mobile phones, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is able to disappear without a trace.

UPDATE 26 MARCH 2014: The flight of MH370 ended in the Idian Ocean south west of Perth, authorities have concluded after further analysis. Satellites spotted 122 floating objects, varying in size. Search aircraft and vessels are trying to locate the objects to see if they are debris from MH370. Black boxes will send pings for two more weeks only, locating them will be an almost impossible task. UPDATE 29 DECEMBER 2014: Still no news.

The answer to its sudden disappearance is certainly not going to be pretty. The above image of shows the last moment of the airplane, cruising at FL350, 473 knots and 239 people on board,  probably and hopefully not suspecting what is about to happen. The next moment, the aircraft is gone, without sending a single distress call or leaving a single trace. It is horrifying and suggests something drastic happened.

Since then, ships and aircraft from Singapore, Thailand (Dornier Do-228 plus Westland Super Lynx), Malaysia, Vietnam, the US (P-3C Orion) and Australia (P-3C Orion), have been looking for the MH370. Latest news is that the aircraft may have tried to turn back in flight. Radar images seem to point at this.

Images come to mind of Egypt Air flight MS990 (Boeing 767, pilot suicide), as well as doomed Air France flight AF447 (Airbus A330, iced up pitot tubes followed by inappropriate crew actions), Swissair flight SR111 (MD-11, in flight fire) and TWA800 (Boeing 747, fumes ignited in fuel tank).

Terrorism is named in conspiracy theories as a cause of the TWA800 disaster, and also now terrorism is mentioned. The evidence is stronger now however, as four passengers apparently traveled with stolen passports. That almost seems to much of a coincidence. Two of those passengers were booked for an onward flight to Amsterdam, according to the latest news reports.

The remains of flight MH370 and its passengers will eventually be found, and the wreckage will be inspected and a likely cause will be found. Let’s hope it will not bring back memories of other dramatic events, such as the Lockerbie attack on a PanAm 747 or even 9/11.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no hope left for the passengers (or their grieving relatives) of flight MH370. That’s the saddest thing, whether a terrorists theory will also become the official theory this time or not.

© 2014 editor Elmer van Hest

The last moments of MH370, as recorded by Flightradar 24. (Image ©