6 Theories on the Disappearance of Flight MH370
Everyone agrees that the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people on board is an unmitigated tragedy. But the ensuing mystery has captured the speculation of the internet. In the nearly two weeks since the plane went missing, dozens of theories have emerged that claim to make sense of this modern mystery, some more far-fetched than others.
1. It Landed Undetected on a Remote Island, or in Kazakhstan
Some people have speculated that, based on the apparent intentional movements by the plane, whoever was piloting had a specific destination in mind. The navigational waypoints it passed through while still visible on radar would have taken the plane over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the eastern edge of Indian territory. Although there are hundreds of uninhabited islands in the cluster, it seems unlikely that hijackers would be able to land there completely undetected and remain so for this long.
"There is no chance, no such chance, that any aircraft of this size can come towards Andaman and Nicobar Islands and land," said Denis Giles, editor of the Andaman Chronicle newspaper.
Steve Buzdygan, a former BA 777 pilot, told the BBC that while islands with long stretches of beach might be attractive targets, pulling off such a landing without rendering the plane unable to fly again would be nearly impossible.
Similarly, another theory posits that after disappearing from radar, the plane flew to Kazakhstan where it landed somewhere in the isolated portions of the desert. Sylvia Wrigley, author of Why Planes Crash, explained to the BBC how it could have gone undetected: "A lot of air traffic control gear is old. They might be used to getting false positives from flocks of birds and, therefore, it would be easy to discount it." For their part, the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee insisted in a statement to Reuters that no unidentified planes had crossed their airspace.
2. It "Hid" Behind Another Plane
One major hiccup in the many stealth-landing theories is the fact that the plane would have had to pass through the airspace of numerous countries such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan; it seems hard to believe that it would have been able to avoid detection on any of their military radar. Keith Ledgerwood, a self-identified hobby pilot and aviation enthusiast, explains in a post on his Tumblr how the plane could have found a loophole. He posits that the Malaysian plane could have hidden in the "shadow" of a Singapore Airlines 777 in the area. With the transponder turned off, the Singapore Airlines plane would have been unaware of the other aircraft trailing it. If it stayed close enough, the missing aircraft and the accounted-for flight "would have shown up as one single blip on the radar." After passing through heavily-guarded airspace, the Malaysian flight could then break off and continue on to its yet-to-be-determined final destination.
Business Insider reached out to several experts who agreed that, while the theory was interesting and seemed to fit into the realm of possibility, it is ultimately unlikely that a conveniently similar aircraft would be flying a similar route at exactly the right time.
3. It Attempted to Make an Emergency Landing at Pulau Langkawi
Instrument-rated Florida pilot Chris Goodfellow claims to have come up with a simple explanation for the missing plane that does not involve hijacking or terrorism and, indeed, paints the pilots as failed heroes. He originally put forth this theory on his Google+ account and it was soon reprinted on Wired where it gained popularity.
Goodfellow suggests that the 90-degree turn to the left that took the plane off its flight path was an attempt to get to the nearby Pulau Langkawi airport for an emergency landing as a fire consumed the cockpit.
"Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time. We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise...When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles."
The fire, he believes, could have been started during takeoff when one of the front landing gear tires overheated. "In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one," Goodfellow explains. "If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent." That would explain the loss of communication.
In this hypothetical scenario, the flight crew suffocated as smoke filled the cockpit and the plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel or crashed as a result of the fire.
It's a compelling theory. The folks over at Slate argue that it doesn't account for the other turns the plane made after that initial left that put it on a direct course for Pulau Langkawi, which would have been impossible for an unconscious crew to make.
4. The Bermuda Triangle Is To Blame
A rather legless theory seemed to suggest that the infamous Bermuda Triangle is somehow responsible. Since the plane disappeared nowhere near Bermuda and the existence of such a mysterious patch of ocean was debunked in the 1970s, it was easy to discount this theory. Turns out, the whole thing was a hoax developed by rather insensitive hackers.
5. Aliens, Naturally
Looking at data from the flight tracking website Flightradar24 and a clip made by YouTube user DAHBOO77, Alexandra Bruce at ForbiddenKnowledgeTV claims to have spotted an anomalous object around the time of the plane's disappearance. She concludes that "Regardless of whether or not this mystery object had anything to do with the demise of Flight 370 - what IS evident is that the radar readings shown in this clip captured signals from what for now, can only be termed a UFO."
The UFO is actually just Korean Airlines Flight 672, and its bizarre behavior is the result of a glitch in the site, Flighttradar24's CEO says.
6. The Snowden Intelligence Connection
One imaginative Reddit user, Dark_Spectre, speculated that the presence of certain passengers, employees of Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor, on board led to U.S. officials taking drastic action. We'll let him explain:
"US intelligence got late wind that their flying brain-trust of 21 were going to be arrested/detained and interrogated upon landing in China and the US intelligence community deemed the risk too great to their Asian based espionage programs and took appropriate action to 'sanitize' the plane in flight."