The mystery of flight MH370: other planes that vanished

THE disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has gripped the public imagination. Unanswered questions such as why passengers’ phones continue to ring, and why the aircraft apparently executed a U-turn before it disappeared have deepened the mystery. But this is not the first time a plane has gone missing. Here are five other examples of planes that vanished from the skies and have never been fully recovered.

Flying Tiger Line Flight 739

One of the most enduring mysteries in aviation history is what happened to the Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 in 1932. The US military flight carrying 90 military personnel took off from Guam, in the western Pacific, but never arrived at its destination in the Philippines. The plane issued no distress call and no wreckage has ever been found. The crew of a Liberian tanker claimed to have seen an “intensely luminous” light in the sky, which some believe may have indicated the flight exploded in mid-air, but the US Civil Aeronautics board ruled it was “unable to determine the probable cause of the incident”, Time Magazine reports.

Bermuda Triangle

Several planes disappeared in the region between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda in the 1940s in mysteries that have been the focus of intense interest from conspiracy theorists and aeronautical historians ever since. Two British South American Airways passenger jets vanished in the area in 1948 and 1949. Fifty-one passengers and crew were lost in the two incidents, one involving a Star Tiger plane and the other a Star Ariel plane. In an official report into the Tiger incident, investigators said they were “baffled” by the aircraft’s disappearance. Several other planes have disappeared in the region including five US bombers that vanished in 1945, but in spite of massive air and sea searches, no trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found.

Air France Flight 447

In 2009 a flight from Rio De Janeiro to Paris crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 passengers and crew. After a day of searching wreckage was spotted and parts of the plane, including the black boxes, were eventually recovered. But the bodies of 74 passengers were never located, and it took three full years to conclude that the crash had been caused by a combination of ice build-up, mechanical failure and pilot error.

Top Gun crash

Stunt pilot Art Scholl crashed and disappeared without trace when his Pitt S-2 camera plane crashed during filming for a scene for the Hollywood film Top Gun. Scholl had intentionally put the plane into a flat spin to film a scene for the movie, but the aircraft never recovered from the manoeuvre and plunged into the ocean. Scholl’s last recorded words were: “I’ve got a problem here,” the LA Times reports. The film was dedicated to his memory.

Amelia Earhart

Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappeared in her Lockheed Model 10 Electra somewhere over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. In spite of a multi-million pound search effort, no remnants of her plane have ever been found. Earhart was officially declared dead in 1939, but speculation about the circumstances surrounding her disappearance continues to this day.

World War 2 bomber found on the moon

Since its birth in 1986, the Sunday Sport newspaper has printed major “scoops” including the discovery of a B-52 bomber on the moon in 1988. The incredible find turned out to be just as true as other celebrated Sunday Sport stories, such as “Aliens turned our son into a fish finger” and “Statue of Elvis found on Mars”. When it emerged that no such bomber could be found on the lunar surface, the paper ran a follow-up headline on its front page: “World War 2 bomber found on moon vanishes”. · 

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