Politics & Policy

The Top 9 Flight 370 Landing Theories

Pirates, smugglers, terrorists, hidden airstrips and more.

The mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 continues to baffle authorities, stymie experts, and generate countless theories about the plane’s whereabouts.

Some of the most imaginative hypotheses posit that the plane, which disappeared during its March 8 journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was not destroyed somewhere in the ocean, but instead landed in some undetermined place for unknown reasons. Here are nine of the most intriguing ideas, and the details (or lack thereof) that make them sort of plausible. #ad#

1. Abandoned Airstrip: Several experts have pointed to temporary, makeshift airstrips created during World War II and the Vietnam War as sites where the Boeing 777 might have touched down with its 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Airstrip theorists speculate that the plane could have used one of these old airfields without detection — either as an emergency measure or in a preplanned operation.

2. “Somewhere in the Jungle”: MSNBC talker Ed Schultz opened his Monday show offering his version of what happened to the plane. Citing his experience as a pilot, the MSNBC host walked viewers through the different parts of the cockpit, arguing that it’s possible to land the plane in more places than people think. Schultz holds that flight captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had the experience and the skill to pull off a secret landing.

8. Cover-up: David Learmont, an editor at aviation news site Flightglobal, doesn’t quite suggest that the plane landed somewhere, but he wonders if national governments involved are withholding information to hide their security vulnerabilities.

“Maybe these states’ air defences, like Malaysia’s, are not what they are cracked up to be,” he wrote. “And maybe they wouldn’t want the rest of the world to know that.”

Reuters found that maintaining full operation radar facilities can be “too expensive” for some countries, leaving gaps in their air systems.

“Several nations will be embarrassed by how easy it is to trespass their airspace,” a retired British Royal Air Force pilot said. “You get what you pay for. And the world, by and large, does not pay.”

9. Somalia or Mongolia: A Malaysian air force official suggested that Flight 370 could have made its way to some of the world’s most unstable, insecure countries through a carefully maneuvered route. The route the plane appears to have been on before losing contact went along several national borders where radar is weak and detection can be avoided, the official told China’s Tencent.

The official noted that Somalia has little to no authority to prevent an unauthorized landing. Meanwhile, Mongolia is a known spot for smuggling.

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