After a search entailing two years, 50000 square miles and $200 million, authorities have declared that we’ve been looking in the wrong place for Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared with all 239 souls on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in 2013.
In a masterpiece of bureaucratic understatement, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau declares in its latest report on the matter that “There is a high degree of confidence that the previously identified underwater area searched to date does not contain the missing aircraft.”
This is rough news for the passengers, who are surely running out of air by now. Or…are they?
Since the plane went down, the internet has buzzed with speculation about what actually happened to MH370, conspiracy theorists certain, as they always are, that they know the truth we fools can’t see.
The most relentless theory of all is that the Malaysia Airlines flight was hijacked and taken to Diego Garcia, a small British island in the Indian Ocean that houses a US military base. A breakaway sect of theorists believe the plane was shot down by authorities, who then planted the wreckage that has washed up on Reunion Island as part of a cover-up.
But such theories are almost boring compared to others that have had some traction over the years.
In 2015, the World News Daily Report alerted readers to the news that the pilot of MH370, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had mysteriously reappeared in a Taiwan hospital, suffering – frustratingly enough – from amnesia. Readers concerned about the trustworthiness of the report might have noted some of the other headlines on the news site, such as "Man loses over 200 pounds in a year" and "Sex toy magnate donates 20,000 Dildos to homeless shelter." Despite the august masthead, The World News Daily Report is a source of news one must approach with extreme caution.
According to others, authorities would be wise to interrogate pop stars Pitbull and Shakira, whose 2012 song, Get It Started, features lyrics that apparently foretell the fate of the doomed aircraft. “Now it’s off to Malaysia” sings Pitbull, “Two passports, three cities, two countries, one day.” Conspiracy theorists insist this mindless lyric is proof that Pitbull – and by association, Shakira – has been in on the plane’s disappearance all along. Exactly what the bald singer would have wanted with a commercial aircraft full of passengers has never been made clear.
In 2014, CNN news anchor Don Lemon raised a number of possibilities while speaking to Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation: that MH370 might have flown into a “black hole”; that it might have entered the Bermuda Triangle; or that it suffered a fate similar to the aircraft in the television series Lost.
“I know it's preposterous,” said Lemon, wisely, before adding: “but is it preposterous, do you think, Mary?”
“It is,” Schiavo replied. "A small black hole would suck in our entire universe. So we know it's not that. The Bermuda Triangle is often weather, and Lost is a TV show.”
“Right,” responded Lemon, who remains employed by the news network.
Another theory has it that Jacob Rothschild, investment banker and member of the heralded Rothschild family, squished MH370 so he could get his hands on a patent that was held by four passengers. Why Rothschild, a man with an estimated worth of $5 billion, would take such a roundabout way to secure a patent has never been explained, particularly when the patent in question is for a “system for optimizing number of dies produced on a wafer”. One would think Rothschild has better things to do.
In March this year, UFO hunter Scott Waring hit the headlines with claims he’d found MH370 while looking for a UFO. Waring’s stroke of good luck occurred while he was browsing Google Earth along the coast of Cape Town in South Africa, where he spotted the outline of a completely intact Boeing beneath the water. “I know there is less than one per cent of one per cent of a chance that this is MH370,” he told The Daily Mail, “but it's better than we had five minutes ago, right?” It should be noted that Waring is the editor of UFO Sightings Daily, a site that claims NASA is covering up the discovery of a squirrel on Mars.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Danica Weeks, who lost her husband on MH370, told Fairfax Media the possibility that the search may be called off is “another kick in the guts”.
"They have to find it,” she said. “It's not just about us. It's about the aviation industry as a whole. And if we don't find out what happened to this plane, it could happen again."