At 12:40 hours on Sunday morning 9 March, Malaysian Flight MH-370 took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport destined for Beijing, China. Approximately 180 Kilometers out to sea on its flight path heading toward Vietnam and China proper, the $250 million dollar Boeing 777 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard suddenly turned sharply westward and has not been heard from since. An extensive two-week search followed, undertaken by 26 Asian and Middle Eastern countries rendering and confirming the aircraft was lost. The plane’s final resting place is unknown as I write, but there is hope. It remains a mystery weeks after its disappearance and has completely stymied officials. Since the calamitous disappearance the world-wide Media has gone wild with day-to-day, hour-by-hour news and interview blitzes that have reported and re-reported every twist and twisted turn of the tragic event.
The Social Media, U-Tube, Twitter, etc. announced the fate of Flight MH-370 is their biggest story ever, outstripping commentary traffic of the Obama Inauguration, and the death of Michael Jackson. The Media promotes this to be “The Biggest Story,” and they could well be correct. This tragic affaire may turn out to be the Number One Biggest News Story of the Year, even bigger than other potentially big, big, big and important stories that may follow like “Iran Acquires Nuclear Bomb” or Russia Declares War On The EU, attacks, Ukraine, Poland” or “Russia Aims Nuclear Armed ICBMs at U.S. as U.S. Orders Up Additional Capability and Mobilizes” or “Obama is impeached over Sexual affaire with Angela Merkel.” These apparently may be important stories, but not as big or as important as Malaysia’s Flight MH-370. In the meantime analysis for every aspect of the flight, the pilots, passengers, service crews, the Boeing plane itself, and other possibilities are being thoroughly investigated repeatedly, again, and again. Stories of missing aircraft decades old have resurfaced and rehashed. Theories, explanations, and flights-of-fancy galore have permeated every news channel.
Some experts speculated the aircraft may have been on the ground during an electronic transmission, thus taken into consideration fuel capacity etc, the search was extended to Australia to India and Pakistan, but leads, calculations, and clues went nowhere. Shortly, a 75 foot by 50 oil slick east of the plane’s last radio transmission proved to be in all probably a discharge from a passing vessel. Likewise a floating raft-like object northwest of the aircraft’s last radio position was also incorrectly identified. A hundred other unanswered questions came forward within a day or three of the last aircraft transmittal. Soon it was learned two male individuals boarding the aircraft were cleared by immigration with stolen passports, as dozens of security and aeronautical experts descended into the country to give further advice to the beleaguered Malaysians. After day five, the Malaysian Government disclosed Thai military coastal radar revealed the Boeing 777 may have landed or passed by on one of two Islands, Pulau Perkak and Lanagkawi just south of Thailand’s Phuket, on the West coast of the Malaya Peninsula. The search and rescue teams quickly revised previous routing and redeployed aircraft and vessels to the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula.
It was then on day six, the two pilots came under intense scrutiny. One a 58-year-old, the other a young fellow of 27. Reports indicated they were less than friendly toward each other and there may have been a grudge between them; however, both had good records with the airline, and no family or financial problems. The younger showed mild signs of immaturity. The older gentlemen, a dedicated long time employee of the airline had a flight simulator at his residence. He directed and hosted various instructional flight videos, and according to forensic F.B.I. agents, occasional soft porn film clips with his friends on the monitor screen, deleted and later recovered. It was determined early on that only an experienced pilot would possess the knowledge to turn off various safeguards, as the transponder that could and did confuse the searchers. Moreover, The younger suspect had a moderate procedural misstep by previously allowing two female visitors to sit with him in the cockpit for an hour or so, while the salacious older culprit appeared an eccentric, and dedicated workaholic. With these vicarious character failings, and based on these personal disclosures, I would have arrested and convicted the two right on the spot before the plane’s take off. Really though, having a Flight Simulator is no big deal: I have one in my apartment.
Led by CNN, Network News Asia, BBC, and MS-NBC with dozens of other networks broadcast non-stop as they waited abreast for every scrap of information, or misinformation, leaked to them to add to their byline and interview formats. The latest item being the state-of-the-art Thai military radar system reported as the aircraft passed out of range into the Indian Ocean, its altitude repeatedly changed drastically to heights 40,000 feet down to lows of 5,000 feet as it erratically continued on it way to nowhere. This deviation indicated an inexperienced person could have been at the controls.
Meanwhile, as the families of the passengers gathered in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to wait for what they hoped to be a favorable outcome, human interest stories became the meat and rice of Media reporting. One human interest story was of a family that begged their father not to take the flight and to stay home. Another heartbreaking story was of an elderly man’s lament over the possible loss of his only son. Another was of an Australian wife telling a CNN interviewer of her Mongolia bound husband’s feelings prior taking the trip. She said he seemed strained, sullen, gave his wife his watch and wedding ring for safe keeping should he not return. As the husband headed for the airport he told his wife the ring should be presented to their son when the lad married. Even more bizaare, an American woman claimed she positively knew her husband was alive as she and her son packed selected garments for their welcome meeting and promptly flew off to Beijing to wait his arrival. Photos of a two-year old baby were shown as being the youngest victim. The loss of a crew member on a missing African flight eleven years ago was replayed by interviewing his brother who was continuing the search after all those years. Tears, fears, anxieties, sadness, worry, were the order of day and night as families anxiously waited word of their loved ones, and as Networks reestablished their role of Merchants of Misery.
It was evident the extension of coverage magnified the uncertainty, anxiety and mourning periods for the families, and did not help in resolving a solution. The constant ebb and flow of Media coverage of overwhelming sadness actually exacerbated the group’s melancholy leading to threats of families’ fasting not consuming food or water, to near riotous shouting down Malaysian officials unless provided accurate information that had previously alluded them. These news items added to the constant harping of Media hype for ratings; however, that said, it appears to be exactly what the general viewing public wanted, details, and some were glued to their televisions, because it was undoubtedly a human story of deep personal loss, and an unsolved mystery with many puzzling features. I do believe though at this juncture the uncertain tragedy was allowed to be carried on much too long. Attention could have been diverted from the mourner’s dubious hopes and the search cut short by days. But no one had the guts to say so.
At this point may I interject other harsh realities, a nuclear Iran, the Ukraine-Crimia-Russia gambit, the Israel-Palestine issue so as to remind the reader these past two and a half years an estimated 140,000 men, women, and children have been slaughtered during the brutal ongoing Syrian Civil War, and not merely 239 flight passengers with equally precious souls.
I must admit the sad flight disappearance of did strike home with me. I live an hour’s ferry ride from Malaysia and have visited there several times, once recently. No matter the criticism of the handling of the tragic loss, I can attest Malaysian Security is actively engaged in attempting to solve the riddle, and to find the culprit or culprits if they exist. Just yesterday, I heard hard knocking at my door and peeked out to see three men who appeared to be Asian Security Agents. They had come to asked if I had a Flight Simulator. I made an excuse, delayed opening the door, in order to quickly shred, discard, and flush my stolen passports down the toilet. On entering they asked if I had a Flight Simulator? I casually replied meekly “Oh, heavens No, I discarded that ages ago at the local sanitation fill.” They noted my statement on a five by four-inch index card and left. Gee’s, that was a close one. The flight simulator was under my bed all along. (If you believe this yarn, I’ve got the Golden Gate Bridge to sell you)
As I write on 22 March the latest is that wreckage has been located by satellite 1500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. Somewhat encouraged this could finally be it as ships rush to area to examine what they find. And if they do, realistically what is the importance of this temporary result? Most realize a week after the disappearance a search would eventually build to a tragic fiasco fed by the Media and is and will continues to be a topic in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Nevertheless, The over exposure and pandering of this tragic incident during these weeks has disappointed me, has utterly destroyed my faith in the Media and the Fourth Estate, and I no longer want to have a role in it. They have unnecessarily beaten this story to death. So, the episode ends my dreams of becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. I’m quitting, I am quitting and going back to my old job of stealing children and selling them.
All the Best.
Memoir Author of Rogue Journey, Asia, 1935-1975, The Way It Was; Vietnam Journey, Ten years in Vietnam, both available on Amazon.Com and leading book stores everywhere. Charitable and Political Advertisers welcome.