What I'm about to say will seem cruel, even unforgivable, given the heartache and pain involved. But the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 mystery has attained such rare heights of perplexity that I almost don't want to see this one solved.
Right now, at this moment, we are witness to the greatest puzzle in the history of aviation. Greater than Amelia. Greater than Flight 19 (which was pretty much solved by Larry Kusche
some time ago). Greater than the disappearances of Joe Kennedy, Glenn Miller
or Frederick Valentich.
This tops 'em all.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says that the aircraft was deliberately diverted by someone on board
Mr. Najib also said that search efforts in the South China Sea had been ended, and that technical experts now believed the aircraft could have ended up anywhere in one of two zones — one as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia, the other crossing the southern Indian Ocean.
By noting that investigators had not yet concluded that the incident was a hijacking, Mr. Najib seemed to leave open the possibility that the cockpit crew might have chosen to take the aircraft to an unknown destination.
And then there's the sub-mystery of the great fall
Investigators have also examined data transmitted from the plane’s Rolls-Royce engines that showed it descended 40,000 feet in the span of a minute, according to a senior American official briefed on the investigation. But investigators do not believe the readings are accurate because the aircraft would most likely have taken longer to fall such a distance.
“A lot of stock cannot be put in the altitude data” sent from the engines, one official said. “A lot of this doesn’t make sense.”
CNN is seriously playing with the notion that the airliner landed safely
That theory is buoyed by word from a senior U.S. official familiar with the investigation that the Malaysia Airlines plane made several significant altitude changes and altered its course more than once after losing contact with flight towers.
The jetliner was flying "a strange path," the official said on condition of anonymity. The details of the radar readings were first reported by The New York Times on Friday.
Malaysian military radar showed the plane climbing to 45,000 feet soon after disappearing from civilian radar screens and then dropping to 23,000 feet before climbing again, the official said.
Then there's the theory that maybe Flight 370 landed in a remote Indian Ocean island chain.
The suggestion -- and it's only that at this point -- is based on analysis of radar data revealed Friday by Reuters suggesting that the plane wasn't just blindly flying northwest from Malaysia. Reuters, citing unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, reported that whoever was piloting the vanished jet was following navigational waypoints that would have taken the plane over the Andaman Islands.
The radar data don't show the plane over the Andaman Islands, but only on a known route that would take it there, Reuters cited its sources as saying.
And then there's this intriguing detail
Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints when it was last plotted on military radar off the country's northwest coast.
This indicates that it was either being flown by the pilots or someone with knowledge of those waypoints, the sources said.
That's a viable line of investigation, I should say.
CNN has nothing but kind things to say about the pilot and co-pilot
. Nevertheless, Malaysian investigators have inspected the home of pilot .
Born in northern Penang state, the bald-headed captain and grandfather is also an enthusiastic handyman and proud home cook. As part of what he called "community service," he had posted several YouTube videos including how to make air conditioners more efficient to cut electricity bills, how to waterproof window panes and how to repair a fridge icemaker.
He also had a flight simulator
in his home.
Of course, there is also the discomforting fact that two Iranians allegedly boarded the plane using forged or stolen passports. Iran has no earthly reason to "tickle the tiger" by committing an act of terror. If the downing of this jet is blamed on Iran, then you can be sure that something else
is going on.
(The preceding sentence is one of the few things I can say with certainty about this affair.)