The Many Theories of Flight 370

Jacob Harper  |

In the eleven days following the abrupt disappearance of Flight 370 and the 239 passengers and crew aboard, despite myriad leads and increasingly circumstantial evidence nobody has been able to conclusively prove what happened. As 15 countries now engage in one of the widest searches in history, several theories have been floated as to what exactly happened to plane after it took off from Kuala Lumpur on its way to Beijing.

Until the time the plane is recovered, every theory is just that. But the plane, as of Mar. 19, has still not been found. And as long as that's true, there’s no telling what happened.

Theory One: It Landed… Somewhere

The idea that the plane actually landed somewhere and has not yet been discovered has proven exceedingly popular, mainly because it implies that the passengers could, amazingly, still be alive. Parallels to the show LOST have been drawn several times, but it’s probably less likely a case of a haphazard crash landing and more of a controlled touchdown on an abandoned airstrip.

Both America and the Japanese built a plethora of airstrips on remote islands in the Pacific during WWII. However unlikely, it is possible the plane was forced to land on one of these relatively ancient airstrips, many of which are in areas that are now completely uninhabited.

Other, far more outlandish theories claim the flight could have been rerouted to land in the Vietnamese jungle, Pakistan, Mongolia, or even Somalia.

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Theory Two: An Onboard Electrical Fire

The simplest explanation, as they say, is usually the correct one. And the majority of flights go down because something went wrong with the plane. Wired put forth the theory that based on the last radar data tracking the plane, it appeared the flight was making a beeline for the closest airport when it presumably crashed into the ocean. The author asserts the most likely emergency was some sort of fire onboard, likely an electrical one, based on the transponder going out while the plane continued flying for some time. If the pilot was forced to choose, that fact would jibe with a pilot’s order of priorities: “aviate, navigate, then communicate.”

Theory Three: It Was Hijacked      

Calling it the “only explanation with logical consistency,” aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia believes that the plane was likely hijacked, and similar to what happened to Flight 93 on 9/11, the plane was crashed as a result of a struggle for control of the plane before it could be used as the hijackers intended. Whether this would be to use the planer as a missile (as on 9/11) or for some kind of ransom is unclear. This theory had more credence when manifests showed it appeared two Iranian men were on the flight with fraudulent passports. However, it now appears those men were likely asylum seekers, and not hijackers.

Theory Four: A Government is Hiding... Something

The Malaysian government has been less than forthright about the information they have on the flight, possibly due to fears it will expose some kind of incompetence, and partly due to speculation they have something more sinister to hide. Or perhaps, the notoriously secretive government of China - where the flight was heading - knows more than they're letting on.

A possible explanation is that the countries cooperating in the investigation might know the answer, but if they revealed what they knew they wouldd be revealing how much they spy on one another. No story there, but as the idea of them hiding the whereabouts of an entire plane…is a little more farfetched.

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