by MIKALIA WENKER '14
In today’s day and age, it may be nearly impossible for some to imagine the thought of an official, tracked airplane to just disappear. On March 8, 2014, this nightmare became a reality. On that Saturday, Flight MH370 left the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, en route to Beijing to arrive the same day. Less than one hour into the flight, air control lost track of the passenger aircraft holding 239 people as it flew over the ocean between Malaysia and Vietnam.
There are multiple theories floating around that range from a possible “ghost plane” to terrorism. A “ghost plane” is when an event happens to the plane, such as explosion or loss of cabin pressurization that causes all passengers to lose consciousness. If the plane were to have lost its pressurization, it is probable that the pilot tried to redirect the flight for emergency landing which would explain a change of course. In the event of a “ghost plane” the loss of consciousness could be immediate or take several hours and in that time gap, a plane could fly for hours on auto pilot until it simply ran out of gas and crashed. This incident is an extremely rare case but it is possible.
On the other hand, terrorism is also a concept that is being considered even though there is limited evidence. The radar marked significant changes in altitude of Flight 370 as it rose to 45,000 ft. then descended 23,000 ft. Furthermore, its path through Malaysia was rather erratic and continued to be so until the plane disappeared. Many analysts view these observations as a possibility that the plane was commandeered. Although many would think of terrorism being accomplished by a passenger of the plane, some investigators go even further and predict it would have been the pilot – if this theory is true.
Currently, experts are focusing on retrieval of the plane which they strongly believe is in the Indian Ocean because of its flight path and the calculated distance it could have traveled. As of last week, analysts from Australia have tracked five separate ‘pings’ from their sonar buoys. These sounds are called ‘black boxes’ and are the same radar detections that planes emanate during flight. These discoveries have narrowed the in depth search to a smaller area of the Indian Ocean. These sonar detections have sent investigators into frenzy because planes are only meant to give off these sounds for a month after contact with water and that deadline is quickly approaching. The search zone will continue to narrow as researchers track these ‘black boxes.’ As of Monday April 14, experts had not heard any sounds from these buoys for six days so they decided to deploy the submarine. Although exciting, officials from Houston warn the public “against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage.” The depths of the Indian Ocean that they are planning to explore are relatively new to man and, therefore, they are unsure of what they will find.
As the world has seen unfold, the story of Flight MH370 is an unfortunate event and an enigma that has even bewildered the experts. Slowly, evidence is being discovered and only thing left to do is hope for an explanation to arise as the world patiently waits to hear from the Bluefin submarine.
The plane lost contact over the ocean between Malaysia and Vietnam. The fuel tank would have only allowed a four hour flight range resulting in this red ring showing how far the plane could have gone.