Vanished: What happened to Malaysian Airlines’ missing airplane?

March 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 19, 2014

I have no idea where the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet has gone. The plane’s fate is a mystery, at once compelling and horrifying. 

The flight took off from Kuala Lumpur shortly before 1 a.m. local time on Saturday, March 8. Its transponder was deactivated around 1:21 a.m.; from that point forward, the Boeing 777’s apparent path can only be tracked through radar pings and analysis of radio transmissions. Since then, there have been no ransom demands, no credible claims of responsibility, no known messages from any of the 239 missing souls. 

In this day and age, it beggars belief that more than 200 people equipped with cell phones could be coerced into maintaining communications silence. No; Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s crew and passengers are almost certainly dead. As for the plane itself, is it lying on a seabed, or is it being readied for some unknown purpose?

This is one of those strange circumstances where the best-case outcome appears to be a tragedy: That Flight 370 crashed in the ocean, with the loss of all aboard. All of the other possibilities are either unsavory — the jet is being loaded with explosives or otherwise prepared for some kind of terror mission — or outlandish — the crew and passengers have been rescued but are being hidden pending the outcome of…some operation?

Such is our modern world. It can unexpectedly delighting us — but it’s also capable of confronting us with this kind of entirely unforeseen Sophie’s choice.

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