With today's admission from the Malaysian Air Force that a heavy airliner deviated from its filed flight plan, switched off its transponder and completely overflew the Malaysian peninsula at random altitudes, might we finally understand why the fate of MH 370 has been so hard to determine?
Is it because the guys in charge of defending Malaysian airspace the morning of March 8th were asleep at their radar scopes and their superiors have been scrambling to save face?
Or is it something worse?
Let's pretend what we now know happened in Malaysia that night happened in the Gulf of Mexico and we'll see if the US Air Force wants anyone to know how things went down:
1) A jumbo jet loaded to 600,000 lbs leaves Houston, bound for Puerto Rico. We'll call it flight DK222.
2) About 50 minutes into the journey, flying at 35,000 roughly 100 miles south of Mobile, AL and outside the US Air Defence Identification Zone, the pilots cease speaking to ATC, switch off their transponder (making themselves largely unreadable on ATC's radar scopes) and make a dramatic 180 degree turn, descending to 32,000 and headed back toward Houston.
3) Concerned by the loss of a radar target, civilian ATC repeatedly hails the pilots of DK222. Unable to raise them, they ask the pilot of a nearby jet to hail DK222 on the emergency frequency monitored by all trans-oceanic aircraft. The pilot of that nearby jet makes contact with DK222 and says its pilots were "mumbling."
4) DK222 continues flying, transponder off and radio silent, right back through the US ADIZ, right back into the airspace of the contiguous US and ends up disappearing forever at high altitude over Shreveport, Louisiana.
The above scenario, which I chose carefully as a licensed pilot with many contacts in commercial aviation, would result in a number of questions in the minds of US citizens, foremost among them would be, I should think, the following:
How can it be that an airliner deviated from its flight plan and then, in classic 9/11 style, turned off its transponder, went radio silent and flew through our nation's air defenses without someone in the Air Force scrambling some jets to go up and take a peek?
Malaysians must be asking that question today. But they'll be asking more painful questions than that. If I were a Malaysian - especially one who lost a friend or family member on that flight - today I'd be asking this:
How on Earth could our Military allow valuable search assets to be wasted for two days in and over the waters East of the peninsula when they knew all along that MH270 disintegrated over the Malacca Strait?
I mean, a "senior officer" told Reuters that the plane disappeared over the island of Pulau Perak in the Malacca Strait. That senior officer was then likely outed (or outed himself) in an NPR story as General Tan Sri Rodzali Daud, chief of Malaysia's Air Force. If we make the assumption that the general is the one talking to Reuters, we can infer that the top Air Force Official in all of Malaysia just admitted that his forces were powerless to intercept a rogue airliner.
Let that sink in: The head of the Royal Malaysian Air Force just admitted that he failed to intercept a rogue airliner that wandered around his airspace for 45 minutes.
He admitted it, but no one seems to be reporting that way. Take a look at this preposterous HuffingtonPost front page:
See the part that reads "Last Known Location??" Well, as of this morning, that is not the last known location. There should be no confusion whatsoever about the last known location of MH370 because, as explained by the Chief of the RMAF to Reuters today, the plane disappeared off of military radar (meaning: ceased to exist as an object in the sky, or disintegrated) near the island of Pulau Perak in the Malacca Strait.
The media should be reporting that. Why aren't they?
There is no more mystery about the flight path of MH370 or where it disintegrated. A beautiful, fully functional Boeing 777 with 239 people inside it ceased to exist over a tiny island west of Malaysia. And yet there are search boats 300NM east of the on the wrong side of the country. And yet the media still feels there's some mystery shrouding the whole affair.
Well, I'm sorry to say this but from where I stand, the only remaining mysteries are as follows:
1) Was MH370 hijacked by its passengers or its pilots?
2) Did the RMAF fail to intercept an airliner that wandered its airspace for 70 minutes only to have it disintegrate in midair due to either an aggressive maneuver or a bomb?
3) Or did the RMAF succeed in intercepting a plane that had been wandering its airspace for 70 minutes, shoot it down over the Malacca Strait and then slow-fuck the rollout of the info because they had no idea how to deal with what went down on Saturday morning?
The longer this utterly false sense of "mystery" surrounds an otherwise simple hijacking story, the more inclined I am to believe option 3.
My heart goes out to the families.
5:35 PM PT: UPDATE: In the comments, people keep asking where all the debris is if the plane either disintegrated, or was shot down, over the Malacca Strait.
I'm going to quote from the CIA Report on KAL007 which was shot down by the Soviet Union in 1983.
"There were 269 innocent people aboard KAL-007, which was shot down by the Soviets on the night of August 31/September 1, 1983. But as of September 1, 1983, there had never been a crash, at sea, of a Boeing 747 passenger airliner.
No one knew what to expect from a crash at sea of a Boeing 747, in terms of the amount and dispersal of wreckage and debris. Therefore, it may not have seemed too surprising to some, at least then in 1983, that only about 848 unidentifiable, very smashed chunks of metal from an aircraft and some passengers’ cabin articles, were recovered in September and October of 1983.
Reportedly, all but two of these 848 small pieces were unidentifiable and were not positively from KAL-007. The other identifiable debris specifically related to KAL-007 was the identity card of a Canadian passenger, Mary Jane Hendrie, 25 Ottawa, Canada, and some business cards from a Taiwanese passenger.
Moreover, there was a long gap before any debris or body parts were recovered--no debris or body parts were recovered at all until as long as 8 days after KAL-007 went down.
This very low number of small-sized items recovered including of 2 unrecognizable bodies, not identifiable as KAL-007 passengers plus 11 other pieces of unrecognizable human remains.
Thus in sum, only two of these 848 various debris items, and none of the bodies or various human body parts, could ever be specifically identified with either KAL-007 itself, or any specific passenger of KAL-007. And nothing was recovered for the first 8 days.
Therefore not only was there a mystery concerning the dearth of debris from KAL-007, but there was also a mystery concerning both the origins and identity of the very small amount of remains recovered at the time of the KAL-007 incident, and also the lateness of their recovery.
About 772 small debris items, or about 90 per cent of these 848 small items, were recovered by the Japanese, because they were washed up as “flotsam and jetsam” on Hokkaido’s beaches. But to re- emphasize, only two of these items--reportedly a single identity card and a business card--could ever be positively identified as coming from KAL-007, and these two items were reportedly recovered by the Japanese.
On September 8, 1983, the Soviets claimed that they had “recovered” a few pieces of KAL-007 debris, but they claimed that they found all of this debris floating on the surface. On September 26, 1983, the Soviets turned over to an international commission only about 76 of these small items, only less than about 10 per cent of the 848 items of total debris found, none of which were human remains, after apparently having some items of recovered clothing dry-cleaned.
It is significant that none of the debris items or remains turned over by the Soviets could be specifically identified with either KAL-007 itself, or with any of its passengers."