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.