Claremore Daily Progress


March 19, 2014

Malaysian plane mystery bewilders, frustrates


Solving the mystery of the missing Malaysian plane is proving to be as easy as cracking a homicide without a body.

Or a witness.

Or a motive.

All while billions of people are waiting for the kind of quick and clear resolution that we’ve come to expect in the information age — and speculating in sometimes wild ways when that resolution doesn’t come.

Eleven days after Flight 370 took a sudden, and still unexplained, left turn over the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, a sense of bewilderment and frustration has settled in among not just the family members of the 239 passengers and crew, but also within the worldwide aviation community.

“I don’t think anybody has a good idea what happened or where to look,” said Jim Hall, who as a former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board chairman saw the inner workings of dozens of crash investigations.

Indeed, there have been more false leads than verifiable facts.

Chinese satellite images showed plane debris — except they didn’t. A Greek tanker found floating suitcases — not actually.

Even some basic understandings change depending on the day.

What started as a relatively confined search of the South China Sea shifted hundreds of miles west to entirely different waters in the Strait of Malacca, and ultimately to an area the size of Australia. The areas were targeted first because that is where the plane lost contact with air traffic control, then because of records from military radar and finally because of digital “handshakes” between a satellite and an on-board text messaging system.

Fundamental questions remain unanswered.

If the plane was commandeered by the pilots or hijackers, as investigators from Malaysia and other nations aiding the search have concluded — why?

During as many as seven hours after two key systems the Boeing 777 used to communicate with the outside world went dark, what happened to the passengers — were they incapacitated or killed? Sleeping? Panicked by the realization that something was terribly wrong?

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