The Mystery of Vanishing Planes

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By Evangeline Murillo

Tea For Two

Thursday, March 13, 2014

THE MH370 of Malaysia is the target of a massive search that has made the world thinking and looking closer at incidents like this one. Meanwhile, families and friends of the passengers are into a situation bordering on depression and sad apprehension over the unknown. The waiting and the fear are fast gnawing at their spirits. How long will it take before the truth is found and before their loved ones can be back with them? Or, will this disappearance never be solved like those of several other missing planes in aviation history that were found only years later, or not at all?

The following are some incidents of missing aircraft and passengers:
In 1937, Amelia Earhart, the famous lady who wanted to circumnavigate the globe by flying her plane got lost too and was never found. Two years later, she was declared dead even when parts of her plane and traces of her body were never found.

Investigating an aviation accident takes a lot of time and it takes even longer, to discover the causes and the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of aircraft if any. A case in point:


The whereabouts of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 which vanished in March of 1962 remains one of the world’s longest mysteries in aviation history.

This US military flight was chartered to transport more than 90 military personnel from Guam to the Philippines, but it never arrived at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga. Search for this plane resulted in nothing even when more than 1300 people were involved in the search for the wreckage.

There was no distress call and only the crew of a Liberian tanker ship claimed to have spotted an explosion in the sky at the approximate time and location where the plane would have passed over. Some members of the crew said they saw an intense luminous light in the sky, while two flaming objects fell into the sea. The plane, which was meant to carry troops to Vietnam, was thought to have gone down somewhere in the western Pacific Ocean. The US Civil Aeronautics board was never able to determine the probable cause of the incident.

In 2009 it took five days for search and rescue teams to find Air France Flight 447 that took off from Rio de Janeiro enroute to Paris. The Airbus A330 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 on board. Another three years passed before investigators reported that ice crystals must have blocked the plane’s air speed sensors, leading to the accident.

More on missing aircraft and seafarers. Who has not heard about the Bermuda Triangle? This is a vast expanse of ocean between Florida and the islands of Bermuda and Puerto Rico. This place has become the subject of movies, books and a lot of speculation involving the real and the supernatural. In this area, many jets and ships have allegedly been lost and many of them have never been recovered. Whether this is truth or fiction only time, a long, long time can tell.

Several planes and boats disappeared in this Caribbean region, including a pair of British South American Airways passenger jets in 1948 and 1949.

The Star Tiger and Star Ariel incidents which happened almost a year apart disappeared but no wreckage was ever found. They carried more than 51 passengers and crew. The Tiger was lost on January 30, 1948 and the Ariel on January 17, 1949. A 2009 BBC investigation speculated that the Tiger might have run out of fuel while a technical error might have ignited the Ariel. The UK team of investigators even suggested that an outside or external cause may have overwhelmed man and machine. What “external cause” this is, only history will unfold in the years to come.

Missing aircraft, ships, and people always put the world at a standstill.

The fear, the ignorance, the vast unknown, haunt those left behind endlessly. We wonder what kind of lives these loved ones will live after the truth shall have been found. But we continue to hope, together with the families and friends of the MH370 passengers, that the Malaysian plane may soon be found and that survivors may still be able to join their loved ones again. We pray, that they regain strength of spirit as we hold hands with them and wish them the best in the privacy of our minds... and hearts.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 14, 2014.


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