Malaysia Air Flight 370: The spooky questions we still can’t answer

A Royal Australian Air Force Orion returns from searching for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean on Monday.
A Royal Australian Air Force Orion returns from searching for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean on Monday.
(Pool / Getty Images)

So now we know the where. But what we still don’t know about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is the really important other stuff: The how and, most vexing, the why.

On Monday in Malaysia, that country’s prime minister announced that the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean and that its passengers and crew were dead.

So, the flight that launched a thousand conspiracy theories isn’t on some deserted island; it wasn’t taken by aliens; and it won’t be bearing down soon on Tel Aviv or New York or Washington, flown by terrorists and laden with chemical/biological/other weapons of mass destruction.

It simply crashed into the ocean in a very remote part of the world.


Feel better now?

Well, yes and no.

First, the bad: 239 lives were lost. A terrible tragedy.

And second, it’s obviously going to take a very long time to solve this crash. The area of the Indian Ocean where possible debris has been sighted — and where satellite data place the plane before all contact was lost — is inhospitable, and will be even more so as winter comes to that part of the world. Locating the wreckage and the so-called black boxes that could help investigators unravel the mystery is not going to be easy or quick.


Which is not a good thing in the modern world, which likes its mysteries solved in minutes or hours, not months or years. Not to mention that we now don’t know if some potential flaw exists in Boeing’s 777 jetliner, a gremlin just waiting to spring out and doom another flight.

But there is some good: We do know, after too many days, the plane’s final resting place.

Part of what was so fascinating and yet so spooky about Flight 370 is that an entire airliner had seemingly simply vanished.

Which was, again, not a good thing in the modern world. Heck, we don’t like it when something so simple as a cellphone call vanishes; we take comfort in the knowledge (well, most of us do) that no matter where you are, you’re never not in this world. Instant communication, connectivity, satellites, drones, security cameras, even the NSA — we may not always like it, but we expect that we can always be found, if someone looks hard enough.


So no, there isn’t some strange vortex that swallows up jetliners. The laws of physics still apply: What goes up, comes down.

But, expensive as it may be, we’re going to have to keep at this until the wreckage is found and the all-important flight data recorders are recovered and analyzed.

Knowing the where is nice, but this story can’t end until we know the how and the why.



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