We're scarcely a month away from the fourth anniversary of the strange and still mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370, in March of 2014. At the time, you'll recall, the stories coming out in the week following the flight's disappearance ranged the whole spectrum, from the fanciful to the bizarre. One American "military source" actually appeared on a major corporate media outlet to offer his theory, namely, that the aircraft had been hijacked, and flown over India closely following another commercial airliner "so it wouldn't be noticed", only to land in Iran where it was "repainted" and would be used in a terrorist attack. India quickly put that nonsense to rest but pointing out that nothing would enter their airspace without them knowing about it. Indeed, it was a ludicrous theory, and I believe the Indians rather than the "source". Then we had the theory that several people on board the flight were carrying sensitive computer chips to China for a Texas firm owned by - here it comes - the Rothschilds. That story at least appeared to have a kernel of truth to it, for there were people on board the flight from a tech company in Texas. But, as I pointed out at the time, if one was concerned about illicit technology transfers, why not intercept it earlier rather than take out a whole flight of innocent people? If it was too late to stop the flight, it could have been recalled by the Malaysian government or even intercepted and escorted to a friendly airfield. Bottom line: that theory made no sense either.
The facts around the disappearance were also either badly contradictory, or badly obfuscated, or both. Some eyewitnesses claimed they either saw or heard the flight passing back over the Malay peninsula. Some theories had the flight flying on to the secret US/UK base at Diego Garcia. While this was going on, China released a satellite photo of what the Chinese government suspected was wreckage off the Vietnamese coast, and both China and Vietnam sent search parties looking for it. Rolls Royce announced that it was still getting "pings" from its engines for some time after the flight's disappearance. Given all this strangeness, I proposed on a Byte Show appearance with George Ann Hughes the most ludricous hypothesis of them all, the one that no one was considering, namely, that the flight really did "disappear," that it went "poof" for whatever reason. I also stated on that show that I would be very suspicious of any parts or pieces of claimed wreckage if it was found in the Indian Ocean. Ms. Hughes asked why. I stated that depending on the timing of such an announcement, it might be possible to "salt" a wreckage field, and since the Indian Ocean is so very deep, it would be difficult to find more.
I wasn't alone in my "poof" hypothesis, as I was later to discover that popular American radio talk show host George Noory, and American actor Richard Belzer, had co-authored a book about the flight with a portion of the book dedicated to entertaining precisely the same hypothesis.
As regular readers here may recall, I backed off off my crazy idea when, sure enough, it was announced that "they" now suspected the flight had crashed in the Indian Ocean. Wreckage was found washing up in Madagascar which was confidently shown as part of the missing flight's aircraft. No sooner had I blogged about that, when a member of this website in Australia emailed me privately, and showed some "problems" with the wreckage in his opinion, and his opinion counted, because he is a pilot.
So why am I rehearsing all of this?
Because the most recent chapter of this saga now includes a "disappearing" and "reappearing" search vessel that was hired by the Malaysian government to look for the missing airliner(my thanks to Ms. K.M. and Mr. T.M. and Mr. M.B. for sharing this story):
Here's the basic story::
At the beginning of January, the US-based company Ocean Infinity was hired by the Malaysian government to search for the missing plane, which disappeared in March 2014.
Its ship, Seabed Constructor, began the search on 22 January, but on Thursday, after only 10 days, it turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) with no explanation.
Three days later, it reappeared outside the search area and on its way to a scheduled refuelling stop at the Australian port of Fremantle. Neither the Malaysian government nor Ocean Infinity has explained the outage, or where the ship travelled in those three days.
As one might expect, in the absence of explanations, speculations and theories abound, including a theory that the vessel went on a secret treasure hunt:
Kevin Rupp, a precision machinist who has been publicly tracking Seabed Constructor, said that was highly unlikely.
“I have nothing polite to say about those who are spreading rumours that Seabed Constructor was really on a treasure hunt,” he said.
He said all speculation was simply guesswork, and the tracker may have been turned off to prevent unnecessary distress to the victim’s families. “If the ship detected possible contacts [with MH370] its most likely action would be to move to the spot of the detections and lower an ROV – a tethered remote-controlled small vehicle,” he said.
“To do this, Seabed Constructor would have to sit still in one place for a long period of time and this would be very noticeable to those of us watching through our AIS tracking apps ... I believe they may have turned the AIS transmitter to low power mode to prevent us from speculating that they had found something and causing undue distress for the next of kin.”
But now note something, and I hope it bothers the reader as much as it bothers me:
In the single update released by Malaysian officials so far, it was confirmed MH370 had not been found in the first week of the search, between 22 and 30 January.
During that time, Seabed Constructor had searched a “high priority” area that Australian researchers had pinpointed as the plane’s likely resting place. Between 2014 and 2017, Australian authorities had conducted a three-year search across 120,000sq km that failed to find the plane. Afterwards, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) identified the priority area as the next place to look.
Scientist Richard Cole said on Twitter he believed the ship had spent the three days in an area it had previously searched, in the south-east corner of the search area.
And that's the problem: why search in an area that has already been searched? Why, indeed, are we searching in the Indian Ocean at all, when, as I've outlined above, there are varying witness accounts of the flight going in other directions? Why would an American "source" get on national television and offer silly theories about Iran, a long way away from the western Australian coast? Any why, indeed, turn off the ship's position transponder? I suspect a different explanation than that offered in the article, namely, that the ship may not have been where people think it was, and that it was looking elsewhere, and if so, that may mean the Malaysian government has some intelligence it is not, as yet, sharing.
The problem is, after three and a half years of searching, the bottom line is we still really don't know where it is, and, if one parses the lines of the following article closely, we don't really know if it's in the Indian Ocean at all; it remains only our best guess:
The operation to find MH370 was suspended in January, after 1,046 days, causing anger among the relatives of some victims.
The suspension followed an unsuccessful underwater search 2,800km off the coast of Western Australia, which used an AU$160m deep-sea sonar search over 120,000sq km (46,000 sq miles).
The search, despite finding no new evidence of MH370’s whereabouts, helped to eliminate a large stretch of ocean as the location. The ATSB report said that meant the understanding of MH370’s location “is better now than it has ever been”.
“The underwater search has eliminated most of the high probability areas yielded by reconstructing the aircraft’s flight path and the debris drift studies conducted in the past 12 months have identified the most likely area with increasing precision,” the report said.
Following the underwater search, a re-analysis of satellite imagery had narrowed the plane’s likely resting place to an area of less than 25,000 square kilometres, the ATSB said.
A second Australian agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, released a separate report on the search on Tuesday. Its report confirmed that early surface area searches, conducted immediately after MH370 went missing between March to April 2014, were effective.
The location of the Boeing 777 has become one of aviation’s greatest mysteries, unable to be solved by a multinational effort involving ships and aircraft from countries including India, China, the US and Australia.
MH370 veered off course and continued to fly for seven hours but sent no automatic transmissions after the first 38 minutes of flight. The plane’s last position was recorded at the northern tip of Sumatra. (Emphasis added)
The bottom line? Aerial history's biggest mystery just became bigger, and my bet is, Malaysia knows something, and so far, isn't talking.
See you on the flip side...