#ThrowbackThursday: The Story of Missing Airplanes – Major Aviation Mysteries Since 1948!

By ,

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's den-belitsky

Losing a loved one in a plane crash is not easy. Losing someone in a plane disappearance is even worse. For some, that may sound like the biggest understatement ever. Trust me, it is and they are not alone in this feeling.

Research tells us that there have been as many as about 84 missing aircrafts since 1948 which have vanished without trace. Only half a dozen were found after extensive searches. According to the data accumulated by the Aviation Safety Network, the planes that have been declared missing were capable of carrying more than a dozen passengers. A map created by Bloomberg Visual Data was released earlier this year and charted the mysterious aircraft disappearances and their respective searches in the post-World War II Era. Nobody really knows what happened to actual flights but conspiracy theories have been abound and from drowning to their being stranded on exotic islands, we have heard them all.

The most recent disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014 has raised the same concern again. People are still wondering, despite all the technological advances, exactly how could a commercial plane with hundreds of passengers aboard vanish off the face of earth with no trace of debris or dead bodies found anywhere.

A more troubling news report by NBC also reveals that any plane that ventures off from land to more than 120 miles gets disappeared. After crossing over that distance, it becomes unreadable on the radar. That is the reason why intercontinental flights depend upon satellites to stay connected with their air traffic controllers.

For our special Throwback Thursday edition, we decided to give you some interesting data and research to remind you of some of the biggest aviation mysteries since 1948 in a concise and easy manner. Let us revisit some of the losses we have had in the aviation industry with hundreds of precious lives and millions of dollars’ worth jetliners lost forever. Remember, every luxury is boughtat a price, every adventure costs you something, and most of the times; life simply isn’t fair.

TWA Flight 800:

It was 1996 when a Paris-bound plane took off from New York City and just as it rose, in midair, the fateful explosion occurred which took lives of all 230 people aboard. According to witnesses, there was a fireball and a streak of lightening that gave way to the conspiracy theory of a terrorist attack, on the plane, with a rocket, and a subsequent government cover-up of the story. There were many other who blamed a meteor.

The National Transportation Safety Board, however, declared an electric short circuit as an official cause for the explosion. According to their report, it detonated the fuel tank which resulted in a complete wreckage of the Boeing 747 in the waters near Long Island.

EgyptAir Flight 990:

Fifteen years ago, EgyptAir’s 767 jetliner made an unbelievable and fatal descent to almost 14,000 feet in only 36 seconds. It was in the year 1999 when their Cairo-bound flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean with all 217 passengers on-board off the coast of Massachusetts. The Egyptian government ruled that it was a mechanical failure; however, many theories came on the surface, such as, a suicide by the pilot or his second in command or tales of a struggle for aircraft controls in the cockpit.

Boeing 727:

On May 25, 2003, a Boeing 727 took off for Burkina Faso from the Quatro de Fevereiro International airport and disappeared in the Angolan Capital of Luanda. The strange thing about this flight was that it departed with no lights on and a dysfunctional transponder. It was the last time the plane was seen or heard from. Its fate is unknown even today. Even the extent of casualties is undecided as the people present on-board are not confirmed. It is believed that the company plane contained flight engineer Ben Charles Padilla, or at least, three people in all who went missing with that flight eleven years ago.

Air France Flight 447:

An Airbus A330, on its way to Paris, took off from Rio de Janeiro and informed the control centers of its position after a few hours as it moved towards its destination while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It was May 31, 2009, when the sad accident happened and it occurred at such a secluded location that the distance was covered in two to four days in a ship from the nearest seaports. It affected the large searches carried out to find the wreckage, and it took almost two years before most of the bodies of the 228 on board, and the voice and data recorders were recovered from the ocean.

The French authorities declared in 2012 that the cause was the disconnection of autopilot. It happened because of the ice crystals which disrupted the system used to determine the plane’s airspeed and the planed ended up at the bottom of the ocean.

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370:

The Boeing 777-200ER aircraft of the Malaysian airlines that carried 239 passengers including 12 crew members went missing on March 8, 2014, on its way to the Beijing Capital International Airport. Within an hour of the take-off, the plane lost all contact with the air traffic control. The hunt for the missing jet is being considered as one of history’s most expensive because of the multinational search efforts. The unsolved mystery and the assumed high scale of casualties make it the worst incident of aviation history involving a Boeing 777. The Malaysian government announced on March 24 that the flight was lost somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean.

We hope and pray that technology experts in the aviation industry come up with safer ways of flying and transportation in the future and that none of us have to go through the trauma of losing loved ones in a plane disappearance.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.