The families and friends of the people involved in one of the grandest mysteries in the history of airline tragedies may be getting some partial closure now. It has been three years since the flight just vanished and all of the 21st century search and rescue capabilities have been frustratingly inadequate.
Now, based on two slight clues, experts have a new theory about what doomed the flight: the pilot was committing suicide.
All but one of the 239 people on the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had probably been unconscious — incapacitated by the sudden depressurization of the Boeing 777 — and had no way of knowing they were on an hours-long, meandering path to their deaths.
Along that path, a panel of aviation experts said Sunday, was a brief but telling detour near Penang, Malaysia, the home town of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
On two occasions, whoever was in control of the plane — and was probably the only one awake — tipped the craft to the left.
The experts believe Zaharie, the plane’s pilot, was taking a final look.
That is the chilling theory that the team of analysts assembled by Australia’s “60 Minutes” have posited about the final hours of MH370.
They suspect that the plane’s 2014 disappearance and apparent crash were a suicide by the 53-year-0ld Zaharie — and a premeditated act of mass murder.
The report goes on to say that the theory that Zaharie depressurized the plane and knocked everyone but himself out is the best explanation for why there were no distress signals. The flight went extremely far off course, which normally would have prompted a “mayday” signal.
This may be the closest anyone gets to figuring out what happened:
The wreckage has not been found, though hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into the four-year search. The secret of what happened in the final moments of the ill-fated flight — and the motive behind it all — probably died with its passengers and pilot.
That it probably wasn’t something mechanical will be of some small comfort to people who fly a lot. We’re fond of telling ourselves that “planes don’t just fall out of the sky.”
Sadly, the victims’ families still won’t have the comfort of knowing for sure what happened.