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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

02 September 2015

Malaysian Airlines MH370: Still Gone

How can a big plane like a Boeing 777 just disappear into thin air? Seems preposterous, doesn’t it? But that is apparently just what happened to that Malaysian Airlines jet back in March of 2014. Thin air. Gone.

Back in July of 2015 a control surface called a “flaperon” was discovered on Reunion Island which is (don’t Google it) in the Indian Ocean about halfway around the world from Malaysia. It appeared to be from a Boeing 777 of which exactly one is unaccounted for (guess which?). It was covered with barnacles.

A word about the flaperon. You might know that the little flipper thingees out on the end of an airplane wing are called ailerons. They move in opposite directions. One moves down and one moves up and the airplane banks toward the wing with the up-deflected aileron. Stick your hand out your car window at speed and you can simulate how an aileron works. We’ve all done this as kids.

Then there are wing flaps. These panels extend out of the wing, increasing the wing area and changing the curvature of the wing to lower the speed at which the wing will “stall” and lose lift.

Normally, ailerons and flaps are separate and operate independently. Flaperons are usually (but not always) located inboard toward the fuselage. They not only deflect with the ailerons but are also linked to droop with the flaps. Don’t ask me why jets have these control surfaces; it’s a complicated aerodynamic explanation I’m sure.

Anyway the flaperon was found. Initially it appeared to be from a 777. It was immediately sent to France of all places to be examined. Sure enough the French said it was from a 777 and the Malaysian government assured the world it was from MH370 (I guess using the “logic” that no other 777’s have crashed and therefore it must be from their plane. I mean, how could it not be?


Strangely, the French authorities stopped short of saying that the flaperon came from that Boeing 777...that being MH370. Boeing, who you’d think would have something to say about this matter, has been eerily quiet. You see, there is a little data plate that would normally be attached to the flaperon which would specify which airframe it went on. The data plate is not there. Nor are any other markings that would directly link the flaperon to MH370.


Let us realize that Boeing does not make every single part of their aircraft. Much of the plane is sub-contracted out to other manufacturers, many of which are in other states or even foreign countries. Spread the wealth, you know. It turns out that a Spanish manufacturer makes flaperons for the Boeing 777.

So the mystery deepens. We really don’t know any more than we did before, other than that a damaged, barnacle-encrusted flaperon from a 777 has been found. Putting on my tin-foil hat, I believe that whoever commandeered MH370 somehow obtained a flaperon and chucked it into the water someplace, hoping it would be found and assumed to be crash-damage. Only it wasn’t found. It stayed submerged for over a year before washing up on a beach thousands and thousands of miles from where it “should“ be.

Yes, I still think that MH370 was taken somewhere and landed, not crashed. What does this mean for the passengers? Probably not good things. But I'll bet that plane gets airborne again, and in it will be a bomb (slightly) larger than the latest Adam Sandler movie.


Capt. Schmoe said...

I think the theory that the plane is sitting somewhere being made into a bomb is absurd. There are far easier ways to procure large, transport category aircraft and fly them wherever you want without any search or questions asked.

Regardless, even if that theory is true, the longer it sits the less likely it will ever get airborne again. The world is a big freakin place, it will probably never be found.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Heh. Absurd, eh? This entire thing is absurd. I don't buy the theory that the plane was somehow taken over and flown for over five hours until it finally ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. *THAT* is particularly absurd. It made a deliberate course reversal. So whatever happened (insane pilot takeover, hijacking, etc.), happened then. But it didn't crash then. No, it flew on and on and on, with its engines faithfully reporting their health to Rolls Royce headquarters.

Then, over a year later a control surface from a 777 surfaces and is discovered on a far-away island. Non-U.S. investigators(!) say that they cannot conclusively link it to MH370. Boeing is silent.

We can admit that our government has technological capabilities that they do not want known. This has always been the case. Oh, we find out eventually, but our general knowledge of what the military can do is usually well behind what they'll admit.

I speak with current U.S. military personnel who are in positions to know our actual capabilities with regard to situations like this. Not high-ranking officers but the guys who train the men and women to use the latest and greatest technology. Those I've spoken with are confident that: 1) It was "probably" not crashed; and 2) We undoubtedly know what happened to that plane. They give me no details but they tell me that last part with confidence. Now, are they just pumping themselves up to look good in front of a lousy cabdriver with some knowledge of aviation? Maybe.

You're right that it's a big planet. Perhaps the 777 *was* flown out into the middle of the Indian Ocean and allowed to run out of fuel and crash. But me, I think that's absurd - it doesn't make sense. Why would anyone do that?

Just as the planet is large, a 777 is also large. If it crashed into the ocean, it did not slip easily and cleanly into the water like an Olympic high-diver. There'd be pieces...lots and lots of pieces. Surely by now somebody...some ship...someone...would've discovered something.