By Burhan Turra,
So we’ve got a plane cruising at 35,000 ft and everything is alright until suddenly, the plane simply vanishes into thin air in the blink of an eye! There has been many an occasion where this has happened, and however big the search effort might have been, all the time, effort and money would have gone to waste. Here are some standout moments where aircraft have disappeared:
Ville de Paris
The Ville de Paris was a personal hot-air balloon flight piloted by balloon pilot Matias Perez when it disappeared north of Havana, Cuba on 28 December 1856. The coordinates are unknown of this balloon, and even to this day it has never been found. This is the first ever aircraft to have gone missing.
The disappearance of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer who was one of the most legendary pilots of all time. She was the first woman to fly transatlantic, flying from Newfoundland to South Wales in 20 hours, 40 minutes. She was also known to be the first woman to fly from Hawaii to California, a relatively lesser feat. On July 2, 1937, she left from Honolulu and travelled eastbound for an attempt on an around-the-world journey. She was on approach to the Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean with only 1 more leg to go before completing the round the world journey when the aircraft, a Lockheed Super Electra 10E, went missing with Earhart and copilot Fred Noonan aboard. The search effort that followed was the largest of its kind in history, but all in vain. There were many theories regarding the disappearance, but some include ditching because of fuel starvation, landing on another island and perishing there and even getting captured by Japanese.
The Bermuda Triangle/Flight 19 disappearance
“All planes close up tight…we’ll have to ditch until landfall…when first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together.”
The Bermuda Triangle is an imaginary triangle in the sea with points at Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. It is also known as the Devil’s Triangle and there have been notorious cases and legends of aircraft and ships going missing without a trace. One such case was on December 5, 1945. Flight 19, a squadron of five Grumman TBM Avenger fighter planes which set out to do a normal training flight, vanished without a trace after leaving from Fort Lauderdale base. The squadron leader, Charles C. Taylor’s last message was, “All planes close up tight…we’ll have to ditch until landfall…when first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together.” This message opened up the chances of a possible ditching due to fuel starvation. When the FLL base was alerted, they dispatched a boat plane to look for the missing squadron. That plane went missing as well, with a possible cause of a mid-air explosion.
Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 was a military transport flight transporting 93 US soldiers and 3 South Vietnamese soldiers from California to Vietnam on March 16, 1962. After a refueling stop in Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the flight was to continue on to its final stopover in Philippines before reaching its destination. The flight went missing en route and a search effort lasting for eight days went in vain. A nearby tanker claimed to have seen a bright flash of light 90 minutes after the last message from the plane followed by two fireball-like contrails.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Often referred to as aviation’s greatest mystery, MH370 was a commercial passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur International to Beijing Capital Airport. On March 8, 2014 the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER vanished without a trace over the Indian Ocean with the last radio contact being at 01:19 Malaysian time (MYT). The radio contact was also a normal, routine message. The search operation lasted for four years but to no avail, though they found some debris floating around like a flap piece that washed up near the French Reunion. All the 239 people onboard have been presumed dead. There have been many conspiracies and theories as to what happened to the plane such as ditching, a mid-air explosion, a hijacking, a bomb blast, technical problems, etc though these theories don’t have enough evidence to back them up. An Australian engineer claimed to have found the plane on Google Maps, but that has not been entirely proven if it is the missing plane.
May all the passengers on board these doomed flights rest in peace.