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Flight 370 mystery

Published March 22. 2014 09:00AM

At 12:41 a.m. on Saturday, March 8, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 took off bound for Beijing on a routine red-eye flight. In less than seven hours, the routine flight became the latest transportation mystery to captivate the world after the flight's transponders were shut down and the plane apparently kept flying for several hours before becoming totally lost to satellites and ground radar. As of the beginning of this week, 26 countries are combing Southeast Asia and its surrounding bodies of water looking for evidence of a plane crash, and the lack of evidence of such a fate is creating rising anxiety among countries as to what may come next.

Most of the world has been tuned into the search for this missing aircraft, and for good reason. Since 9/11 our thoughts as to why a jumbo jet could be stolen are no longer innocent as they might have been before the terrorist attack on our country.In a pre-9/11 world, we might believe the plane simply hijacked or stolen.With the fear and anxiety created by that dark day in our nation's history, the world has little problem believing a missing plane could be converted into a dangerous weapon of mass destruction.

Unless the flight has been found in the few days since I penned this column, the mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 has qualities that recall Amelia Earhart's disappearance when she flew into oblivion in the South Pacific in 1937. No one has ever really determined what became of Earhart, although speculative theories believe she may have been marooned on a remote island or she may have crashed into the ocean or onto an island. Earhart simply seemed to vanish after reporting that she was low on fuel. One investigation was detailed at a news conference in 2012 in which researchers who studied the case believe that Earhart touched down on a remote atoll and continued to broadcast a distress signal for several days until her plane was washed into the reef, stranding her and her navigator.The belief of that investigation is that they died as castaways waiting to be rescued by a search party that never came.

For families of 239 people aboard Flight 370, this waiting has got to be heart-wrenching, and our prayers should be with those poor passengers and their loved ones. How horrible it must be to not know their fate.We can only pray that they eventually receive answers, even if only to provide closure.Perhaps they still can be found alive, but as time continues marching on, the chances of such a happy ending seem to become more and more remote.

Current speculation is members of the flight crew may have been compromised and in collusion to steal the plane. It smacks of a plot out of a James Bond film or an episode of "Lost." If the plane has not crashed, then the fate of it and its passengers could be much more terrifying than heartbreaking.In my opinion, the clues or trail that is left by the vanishing Boeing 777 lead to some scary possibilities.Many of us want to believe that if something happened to the flight, then it crashed in a remote area of Asia or in the Ocean.What bothers me about this though are the clues or pieces of the puzzle in the timeline that don't necessarily fit with an out-of-control plane crash.

First, the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System was shut off and stopped broadcasting aircraft information at 1:37 a.m., eighteen minutes after the co-pilot gave a routine message, "All right, good night."When the plane failed to make its 1:37 a.m. check, the first alarm bells went off in the air traffic controllers' minds. Second, the transponder on the plane that sent information to the radar towers was shut off at 1:21 a.m. What is significant about these systems is that while the transponder can be shut off easily, it requires a flight engineer with some advanced knowledge to turn off the ACARS system.

At some point the plane climbed to an altitude of 45,000 feet, which is much higher than commercial flights typically fly.After the climb, the plane then dived back down to 40,000 feet.Experts are claiming this could be signs of a hijacking or distress among the crew. I have found some documentation while researching this column that states that at 45,000 feet, an unpressurized cabin could cause hypoxia to occur to those in the aircraft. It is known that pilots have their own oxygen supplies in the cockpit, so could this climb have been performed to lethally incapacitate the passengers passively before turning the plane away from its flight path and back to Malaysia?

There are also various reports of an unidentified plane heading west, backtracking over Malaysia and heading either toward the India Ocean or the central part of Asia. It is also reported the plane may have purposely been flying at very low altitudes and hugging the terrain. Perhaps someone has a bunker built to hide this aircraft, and it is being reverse engineered to see how it can be controlled or to find its vulnerabilities as you read this column.

We can only hope and pray that our country or its allies can locate this plane and if necessary neutralize it before it becomes a dangerous weapon of judgment. In a case like this, only time will tell. Hopefully this will end in a positive way.

Till next time …

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