Mysteries behind Airplanes that Disappeared

by Marc De Laria
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Flying in the sky, feeling like floating in the air and viewing the city from above are just some of the interesting and amazing things that a passenger inside an airplane can feel. Riding an airplane is one of the wonderful experiences one can have. Airplanes can bring us to distant places with the shortest possible time because airplanes are the fastest means of travel.

The smooth travel in the air can be interrupted by several factors which can cause some discomforts during the flight or worse, if not managed properly, can lead to a plane crash. Aside from the plane crash, another controversy that the aviation field has to deal with is the disappearance of several aircrafts leaving no traces. The causes behind the aircraft crashes and disappearances have been studied for years. The result, oftentimes, had always been debatable from intentional to accidental. Viewing human error versus mechanical failure from the options of the cause was also inevitable. However, several people also believe that there might be extraterrestrial involvement for the disappearances.

Just recently, the disasters of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 and MH17 have alarmed the world and frightened passengers. MH17 was believed to have been shot down in Ukraine while the reason for the disappearance of the MH370 is still a mystery. MH370 is not the only aircraft that went missing during its flight. History has recorded flights with similar fate and some are even worse. Here are some of the aircrafts that went missing during their flight.

10. Air France Flight 447

Air France Flight 447On the first day of June 2009, one of the most tragic events on air happened. The Air France Flight 447 went missing with its 216 passengers and 12 crew members. The flight was headed to Paris from Rio de Janeiro.

Several controversies were concluded regarding the disappearance of the plane. Airplane crash investigators claimed that due to the bad weather that day, the pitot tubes of the aircraft’s design Airbus A330-203 were hit because of the icy turbulence which caused the speed sensors to become inconsistent and led to the disengagement of the plane’s autopilot feature. Reports also state that the junior pilot who was in control during the disaster attempted to pull up the plane’s nose in an attempt to stabilize the aircraft which experts opposed and stated that in those situations, the pilot should lower the plane’s nose.

After two years, statisticians, with the use of Bayesian inference, were finally able to locate the wreckage of the missing plane along with the flight data recorder which contained relevant conversations that contributed to the investigations for the disappearance.

9. Amelia Earhart

Amelia EarhartIn 1937, the famed aviatrix Amelia Mary Earhart dared to circumnavigate the globe. Using the Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft model and with her flight navigator Fred Noonan, they departed from Miami on June 1.After several stops, they arrived at Lae, New Guinea on June 29. After three days, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea and headed to Howland Island. In the middle of this flight, the pair vanished into the air.

One of the major conclusions to the disappearance states that the Lockheed Electra 10E ran out of fuel and the pair crashed into the Pacific Ocean which caused their death. However, another theory states that the pair landed safely at Gardner Island but died before they were rescued. Relevant artifacts were collected from this island which include a freckle cream jar that Earhart preferred and a piece of Plexiglas which can be usually found in an Electra model. Other theories state that Earhart was a spy and was persecuted by the Japanese. Until now, the true reason behind the disappearance is still a mystery.

8. EgyptAir Flight 990

EgyptAir Flight 990The regular flight of EgyptAir 990 on October 31, 1999 consisted of 203 passengers and 14 crew members. The plane departed from Los Angeles International Airport, USA and headed to Cairo International Airport, Egypt. Few hours after the departure, the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 217 people on board.

Since the crash happened on international waters, the Egyptian government was held responsible for the investigation but due to lack of resources, the Egyptian government relayed the investigation to the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). After weeks of investigation, the NTSB collected evidence that suggested that a criminal act was done and the crash was planned. This was unacceptable to the Egyptian government and therefore launched their own investigation which stated that a mechanical failure of the Boeing 767 elevator control system was the cause of the crash. It’s been almost 15 years and the real cause of the crash is still disputed.

7. Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda TriangleThe Bermuda Triangle is an area that covers around 500,000 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean. It has three points which include Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. Several planes and ships went missing to this area.

Different phenomena are believed to be the cause of the missing planes and ships. Many believe that the disappearances can be scientifically explained. Some of these include compass problems which are believed to be caused by magnetic anomalies in the triangle, violent weather that can form hurricanes and the Gulf Stream which is a river that can carry floating objects at a speed of 5.6 miles/hour. Another famous phenomenon correlates the disappearances to UFOs who are believed to use holes to enter and exit Earth. Some of these holes are found in the Bermuda Triangle to which the missing planes and ships might have passed through. After numerous disappearances, very minimal have been explained which leaves the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, still a mystery.

6. Trans World Airlines Flight 800

Trans World Airlines Flight 800Trans World Airlines Flight 800 is another regularly scheduled passenger flight headed to Paris. On July 17, 1996, this Boeing 747-100 aircraft design departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport with 212 passengers and 18 crew members aboard.

Around 12 minutes after the departure, the Boeing 747-100 was located over the Atlantic Ocean south of Long Island, New York when suddenly, it exploded. This killed 230 people on board. The parts of the aircraft were seen crashing into the ocean. Eyewitnesses and some pilots on duty during the disaster stressed that they’ve seen a “bright light” near the plane before the explosion. This resulted in the theory that Flight 800 was shot down. However, the official report from the investigators of NTSB claimed that the explosion was probably caused by the flaring-up of flammable air vapors in a fuel tank and short circuit. In spite of this report, many still believe that the plane was shot down especially when the authorities claimed that they found traces of explosion on three pieces of the plane’s wreckage.

5. US Army Air Corps B-24D “Lady Be Good”

US Army Air Corps B-24D “Lady Be Good”During World War II on April 4, 1943, Lady Be Good was set to its first mission. With its nine crew members, the team took off from Soluch, Libya and was tasked to bomb Naples, Italy. The Lady Be Good didn’t bomb Naples probably because of the poor visibility. It attempted to return to their base but it overflew the site.

The location of the lost plane was unknown. Until 15 years have passed, in May 1958, a group of British oil explorers in the deserts of Libya discovered the remains of the plane which was halved. The plane was preserved by the desert. Several items were found inside the aircraft which include machine guns, radio and some water but no human remains were found on board and within the crash site. A year later the remains of the eight crew members were located several miles from the crash site. The courage of those people to survive is truly inspiring.

4. Bellanca Super Decathlon Flown By Steve Fossett

Bellanca Super Decathlon Flown By Steve FossettSteve Fossett was another famous aviator who set several world records, one of these is the five nonstop circumnavigations of the globe. On September 3, 2007, using the Bellanca Super Decathlon aircraft model, which he borrowed from Barron Hilton, also a well-known person, Fossett decided to take a “Sunday Drive”. He departed from Yerington, Nevada and never came back.

A year after the disappearance, a hiker claimed to have found Fossett’s identification cards at the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California which eventually led to the discovery of the crash site. Super Decathlon was retrieved and later, the remains of Fossett, underwent DNA tests that confirmed his identity. The NTSB report claimed that the pilot’s encounter with downdrafts led the aircraft to go beyond its climb capability and the high altitude and mountainous terrain made the situation worse. Post mortem examinations of Fossett’s bones concluded multiple traumatic injuries as the cause of death.

3. Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571October 13, 1972, the chartered flight of Uruguayan Air Force 571 departed from Montevideo, Uruguay and was bound for Santiago, Chile. With 45 people on board, the aircraft crashed in the Andes, which is known to be the longest continental mountain range.

Reports state that due to the bad weather, the pilot decided an en route which is longer than the prior route. To avoid the high mountains, the pilot planned to make a turn on the farther end of the Andes. Thinking that they were already on the cleared part, the pilot made a fatal turn which caused the crash. Out of the 45 passengers, only 16 of them survived and resorted to eating the flesh of the dead passengers which were preserved in the snow, to keep them alive. Some of the survivors trekked the mountains for 8 days to find help and fortunately, they met a Chilean who gave them food and alerted the authorities. After 72 days, the survivors were finally rescued. It’s been more than 4 decades but the survivors claim that the traumatic experience still remains.

2. Missoni’s Private Plane

Missoni’s Private PlaneVittorio Missoni was a famous personality in the field of fashion. He was the top executive of the well-known Missoni Company in Italy. On January 4, 2013, Missoni and his companion Maurizia Castiglioni with another couple and two crew members, traveled from Islands of Los Roques to Caracas. Few minutes after the take off, the aircraft went missing.

After almost six months of intensive searches, the aircraft was found approximately 250 feet deep in the seabed northern part of Los Roques by an oceanographic vessel. The missing bodies were also recovered inside the Missoni plane. Kidnapping was initially suspected when the bag of Missoni was found near the island. Later on, investigations revealed that the Missoni plane is not equipped and not suitable for such flight though it’s been operating for 30 years.

1. British South American Airways Star Dust

British South American Airways Star DustThe Star Dust with aircraft design Avro Lancrastian was scheduled for a flight to Santiago, Chile from Buenos Aires, Argentina. There were 11people on board with Cook, an experienced war veteran with combat experience as the pilot. The flight which departed from Argentina on August 2, 1947 went missing.

There was no trace of the crash which brought different speculations to the cause of disappearance. Until 50 years later, 2 Argentinian hikers claimed that they’ve found plane wreckage in Mount Tupungato. Investigators then concluded that similar to the fate of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, the Star Dust went missing in the mountains of Andes when the pilot made a wrong turn thinking they had already cleared the mountains.  However, the mystery of the last code message, “STENDEC” which is an undefined word, amplifies the belief of many that there was a possibility of extraterrestrial involvement. Unlike the 571, the passengers of Star Dust all perished.

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