While investigators are stumped over the fate of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the lack of evidence as to what happened hasn’t stopped wild – and I mean WILD – speculation as to the fate of the missing jet and its 239 passengers and crew members.
It’s not unusual for mysterious or dramatic aviation accidents to catch the imaginations of the conspiratorially inclined - the Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Pan Am Flight 103, and TWA Flight 800 tragedies spurred all kinds of claims of conspiracy, and last week’s apparent tragedy in the Gulf of Thailand is no different.
Conspiracy theorists took to social media this week to contribute their own ideas as to why Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared.
1. Aliens are involved: Alexandra Bruce at ForbiddenKnowledgeTV points to records on the flight mapping website Flightradar24 as evidence of extra-terrestrial meddling. She goes so far as to say the “captured signals” could “only be termed a UFO.”
Her source? YouTube user DAHBOO77, who posted a video that attempts to recreate the plane’s last moments. The clip shows a quick-moving plane and other strange anomalies around the time of the MH370’s disappearance from radar.
Loading the logs directly on the site allows readers to easily click and identify the so-called “UFO,” which is clearly marked as Korean Airlines Flight 672. Its apparent supersonic speed is likely related to a glitch in the system, not alien intervention, according to the site’s CEO Mikael Robertsson.
“[Some] receivers do not provide the same data quality, so sometimes parts of the data can be corrupt [and] generate errors like the one you see on the video,” he explained. “For example if Longitude received is 120 instead of 110, that would generate such error.”
2. The passengers are still alive: Families awaiting news about lost loved ones have told reporters they are able to call the cell phones of their missing relatives, and have said they can also see their instant messaging service accounts remain active online.
The news has fueled all kinds of speculation, but phones that are turned off do not always necessarily go straight to voicemail. Factors such as location, the phone’s network type and its proximity to a cell phone tower can all affect whether a dead phone will still ring on the caller’s end.
You can test this for yourself: turn off your cell phone, remove the battery and call your number on another line - most kinds of phones will still ring before you reach voicemail.
3. There's a Snowden connection: Reddit user Dark_Spectre posted an unusual theory on the website’s conspiracy boards, related to 20 employees of the Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor who were reportedly on the flight:
“So we have the American IBM Technical Storage Executive for Malaysia, a man working in mass storage aggregation for the company implicated by the Snowden papers for providing their services to assist the National Security Agency in surveilling the Chinese.. And now this bunch of US chip guys working for a global leader in embedded processing solutions (embedded smart phone tech and defense contracting) all together..on a plane..And disappeared.. Coincidence??”
Dark_Spectre goes as far as to suggest those chip experts may have been kidnapped by Chinese or American authorities:
"Perhaps a little fast and furious dive under the radar to a flat water landing to rendezvous with a Chinese ship or sub for transport to a black-site for advanced interrogation, scuttling the plane along with the remaining passengers.(any oceanic trenches in fuel capacity distance?) What would 200 lives be to the Chinese intelligence community for the chance to find out ‘exactly’ the depth and scope of our intrusion.”
Yeah, because that would definitely be the easiest way of doing that.
“US intelligence got late wind that their flying brain-trust of 21 were going to be arrested/detained and interrogated upon landing in China and the US intelligence community deemed the risk too great to their Asian based espionage programs and took appropriate action to "sanitize" the plane in flight.”
So far, there is no evidence of an explosion.
4. Iranians kidnapped engineers: UFO Digest’s Tony Elliott points to revelations that an Iranian national was responsible for buying plane tickets for two passengers with stolen passports as evidence that the country was involved, possibly to extract technological intelligence from Freescale Semiconductor employees.
“If the plane is not found in the next few days, or ever, we must assume the plane was hijacked and taken to a nearby country where that government wants to keep the disappearance a secret,” he wrote. “If this is the case, the two passengers with stolen passports must be the hijackers.”
Elliott concludes that the plane is in East Timor, due to an apparent u-turn made by the plane in its final moments on radar.
“If the Iranian government wanted to hijack the plane, it would have had its hijackers make an abrupt turn and head to the nearest friendly Muslim country,” he wrote. “In this case, it would be East Timor, the most likely country, located in the opposite direction from the flight path.”
The theory doesn’t address why the plane suddenly disappeared from radar entirely - no passenger plane could drop from 36,000 feet to below radar horizon in mere seconds.
5. Passengers were taken to Pyongyang: This map is slightly deceptive - while the trip to both Beijing and Pyongyang appear equidistant, this theory would require the plane fly at extremely low altitudes to avoid radar detection, which - due to greater air density at lower altitudes - would require more fuel to travel the same distance.
6. The Illuminati is involved: “Was looking at the Wikipedia page for the missing Malaysia Airlines, and noticed that it's was [sic] the 404th 777 Boeing produced,” Redditor i-am-SHER-locked wrote.
“An HTTP 404 error mean [sic] not found, which in this case is oddly approiate [sic] for the status of the aircraft, or just a concidence [sic]. Coincidence, i think not!”
I think, probably.
7. There's a new Bermuda triangle: Though the Bermuda Triangle’s status as one of the sea’s most mysteriously treacherous zones has been debunked for decades, it doesn’t stop some from seeing triangles in the Gulf of Thailand.
8. The plane is in Vietnam, where it is waiting to be used as a weapon: “Conspiracy and prophecy in the news” blogger ShantiUniverse said she has three possible theories about what happened to Flight MH370: A major mechanical error (OK), a terrorist attack (reasonable) or it was whisked away to a secret Vietnamese airport to be used in a later 9/11 style attack (...).
“Flight 370 was last contacted by another unnamed pilot 10 minutes after losing initial contact,” she writes. “He claims the plane was deep into Vietnam airspace. Its [sic] possible it was hijacked and forced to land at another airport, where passengers are being held hostage. There is a long list of former airports and proposed airports in Vietnam. Its also possible since the plane had no contact, it could of [sic] managed to get to Cambodia to a former or proposed airport...Why would terrorist want a plane intact? Though this is highly unlikely, but not impossible, the only reason I can think of is they would want the plane to use as a weapon of mass destruction like on the September 11 attacks.”
9: There was some kind of miniature hydrogen bomb controlled by an iPhone app and it created a miniature black hole: It’s hard to tell whether @Angela_Stalcup’s account is the work of a completely unhinged lunatic or a genius, masterful troll. Wading through claims that Donald Trump runs a prostitution ring through Trump University or that Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of 92 clones of Adolf Hitler, you may stumble upon this gem of a theory about Flight MH370:
The Malaysia Airlines Jet was blown up by a micro nuclear bomb which created a black hole of magnetic forces vaporizing the whole jetliner.— Angela Stalcup (@Angela_Stalcup) March 10, 2014
So what really happened?: The truth is, no one really knows. The AP now cites a senior Malaysian military official who reports the country has radar data detecting the plane in the Malacca Strait - hundreds of miles from the last position recorded by civilian authorities.
*Armchair conspiracy theorists have also speculated (on Twitter, of course) that the passengers on flight 370 have landed on a remote, impossible-to-find island a la "Lost."
NPR offers some more level-headed theories about the plane’s fate here.