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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Missing Flight MH370 – The Mystery Continues But the Story Remains Personal

First appeared on Blogcritics.

mh4 On the one year anniversary of the missing flight MH370, there is much talk about the “mystery” surrounding its disappearance. A newly released report by investigators does little to clear up the many questions surrounding the Malaysia Airlines jet’s disappearance. In fact, besides the revelation that one of the two black box batteries had not been replaced before the flight, there is little that offers any clues as to why the plane disappeared.


One of the biggest questions has always been about the captain and crew. The report puts to rest any skeletons in the closet regarding this aspect of the mystery.
"There were no behavioral signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse of the captain, first officer and the cabin crew."
The report goes on specifically regarding MH370's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
"The captain's ability to handle stress at work and home was good. There was no known history of apathy, anxiety, or irritability. There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses."
So, the smoking gun in this report would seem to be the battery never being replaced. The report says,
“The battery of the underwater locator beacon on MH370's flight data recorder expired more than a year before the plane's disappearance.”

mh3 If this is indeed a smoking gun, it is low caliber at best. There is a possibility that even without the battery’s replacement that the battery may have still been functional; additionally, the battery in the other “black box” on board (the cockpit voice recorder) had been replaced as scheduled and was presumed functional. Of course, all the reports in the world are basically nothing more than salt in the wounds to family and friends who have been waiting a year now for concrete answers.


Despite all the official proclamations and media coverage, this story is a deeply personal one. The people who await answers are struggling with this new report and all the other things that bombard them as the media picks up this story again on the anniversary of the plane’s disappearance.

mh5Offering little solace to the victims’ grieving loved ones, there have been many theories regarding the plane’s disappearance. Many of these have been heard before, but the standard one that seems mostly accepted by many investigators is that the plane went south out over the Indian Ocean where it ran out of fuel and then crashed into the sea. One of the problems with this theory is the lack of debris. You would think at least one seat cushion or one life vest would have been found. With a tremendously large jet such as this, it is almost inconceivable that there would be not a shred of evidence from the plane (as has been the case in many other plane crashes at sea).

The most bizarre of these theories (and believed by a small percentage of the public) is that aliens abducted the plane. This has to be the most incongruous and insulting to the loved ones awaiting word on the victims; however, some of the other theories are no less worrisome and this includes the plane being taken over and flown to a remote location by terrorists with nefarious purposes for the jet or that this plane was the one that actually was shot down over the Ukraine (and not MH17 as was widely reported).

mh2None of this speculation does anything to help the grieving loved ones. These are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, children, domestic partners, or friends who have waited a year and have heard nothing tangible from officials. Admittedly, that is a vast ocean out there and extremely deep waters, and searchers have an overwhelming task looking for the proverbial needle – not in one haystack but more like a field of haystacks.

The prospect of finding something after all this time remains dim and, as the theorists keep stirring the pot, it will no doubt only exacerbate the pain and anguish of the loved ones. They keep waiting for an answer that never comes, and some of them still hold out hope for finding survivors. No matter how futile this seems, faith and love coalesce to do things to one’s heart and mind. Of course, there is an inescapable truth that they cite that keeps them hoping – as long as there are no bodies, no wreckage, and no evidence, there is a slim chance that some of the passengers could have survived.

mh1When I think about this missing plane it always reminds me of the TV series Lost – a show about a plane that went down with some of its passengers surviving on a deserted Pacific island. Maybe the grieving loved ones are thinking about this as well, and we on the outside might call it crazy or wishful thinking; however, love has nothing to do with facts and figures and more to do with the notion that where there is nothing to the contrary one has hope.

Over the past year I kept thinking some debris would be found somewhere. I kept hoping that it would wash ashore on Australia’s west coast and that it would give these people closure. That has not happened yet and, since this is not a TV series but a reality beyond someone’s worse nightmare, the pain for these people will continue. We can only hope that investigators find something soon in that vast deep ocean,  but for now the mystery continues.

  Photo credits: epa, getty images, corbis, express.co.uk, wikipedia   

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