When I first heard about the Malaysian airlines “missing plane” with 239 on board, I didn’t pay much attention. Air crashes are actually rare, but when they happen everyone notices. There are far more automobile deaths (if you fly, the most dangerous part of the trip is the ride to the airport) and almost nobody notices.
Then things went from dull to really bizarre. The plane’s engines sent out signals that proved the plane was flying at least five hours after it disappeared from radar. The signals didn’t give much data, only proof the plane was still in the air, somewhere. Beyond that, the communication systems with the ground had been manually disengaged, something very difficult to do.
Then the reports said that the plane briefly rose to 45,000 feet, high enough to render the crew and passengers (anyone not prepared) unconscious. That way the hijackers could easily confiscate cell phones from passengers and restrain them – or maybe even kill them. They flew where there was little or no radar, and may have used “terrain masking” and other techniques to avoid detection.
To what end?
Two reactions. The first is politically incorrect – WOW, I’m impressed! The skill to implement such a plan, avoid detection and pull it off is really amazing. This is something from a James Bond film – where the super villain manages some bizarre act of sabotage, like stealing nuclear missiles. I can’t deny a little admiration for someone with the guts and cunning to pull off such a feat. Friedrich Nietzsche would approve.
But of course I am deep down a humanist who does not want terrorists to use this in some nefarious plot, so my second reaction is to hope that, like in James Bond films, there is some 007 like team rooting out the villains, ultimately saving the day.
Theories range from the pilot doing this as an act of protest against the Malaysian government to the first step of some al qaeda like attack, perhaps focused on shutting down Saudi oil ports like Ras Tanura.
We just don’t know. It’s creating a media drama unlike anything else recently. A mystery! Danger! Lives at stake! Conspiracy theories! My favorite – some anti-terror expert in the UK thinks its possible someone with a mobile phone could have taken control of the plane. Think what that would mean for airline safety! Right now it’s a fascinating story to watch unfold. Hopefully it’ll conclude with the passengers freed and little damage done.