After more than 50 days of false leads, raised hopes and rumours, it now looks increasingly likely that we might never find flight MH370.
Last week, it was announced that we are entering a “new phase” of the search, which is basically another way of saying that operations are being scaled back. Aircraft and ships have been withdrawn and victims’ relatives have been told to go home. It seems that, despite their public rhetoric about never giving up on flight MH370, officials have now reached the grim conclusion that the aircraft may never be recovered.
If this is the case, it would certainly be a fitting – if agonisingly unsatisfactory – conclusion to this most bizarre of aviation disasters. So many questions remain unanswered, so many mysteries unsolved. Why did the plane fly so far off course? Why were the transponders switched off? Were the pilots responsible for the disappearance, or did they try desperately to save the aircraft?
And what was happening onboard the plane as it flew to its watery grave? Were those onboard doing their utmost to save the plane until the very end, or was it a ‘ghost flight’, carrying its unconscious passengers silently in the abyss?
Somehow, I hope it’s the latter. The thought of the 239 passengers and crew members having to endure a seven-hour ordeal like that doesn’t bear thinking about.
Of course, there have been suggestions that MH370 is not at the bottom of the Indian Ocean at all. Some conspiracy theorists would have us believe that it is hidden on Diego Garcia, for reasons best known to the CIA. Others are adamant it was blown up in mid-air, again, probably by the CIA. And a small number of people believe it slipped through a crack in the fabric of the universe and has entered another dimension. No doubt the men at Langley are responsible for this too. If in doubt, blame the Americans.
Unfortunately, I think there will be a much more mundane answer to this mystery. One either involving a technical malfunction that caused the pilots into a drastic action, or sadly more likely, one involving the deliberate action of one of the pilots themselves.
It seemed almost certain from the start that MH370 would go down as one of the world’s great mysteries. Now it can truly become the stuff of legend, taking its place alongside the Bermuda Triangle, Marie Celeste, Area 51, and the other bizarre, unsolved mysteries of modern history. And that’s exactly where it belongs.