Most Mysterious Aircraft Disappearances In Aviation History

Air travel is one of the safest, most convenient, and the quickest transportation that makes our world round. 

With millions of successful flights across the globe, there are a few mysterious incidents where the planes have gone missing. Despite the progress in aviation safety and engineering with advanced satellite and radar systems, accidents are still unavoidable.  

There are incidents that have puzzled investigators around the world, with only a handful of theories as to what happened to aircraft that disappeared off the radar.

Here are some of the unsolved mysteries of aircraft disappearances.

Indian Air Force Crash   

In 2016, India conducted its largest search and rescue operation at sea in its history.

A military Antonov An-32 went missing over the Bay of Bengal with 29 people on board. Despite the deployment of aircraft, vessels, and submarines, the aircraft was never found.

Air France Flight 447

It was the worst crash in Air France’s history, when the Airbus A330 disappeared over the Atlantic in a storm. It took two years to find the wreckage, which was eventually located by remote-controlled submarines in 2011, after a search of 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) of the ocean floor.

A combination of technical failure involving the plane’s Pitot sensors during the storm and the pilots’ inability to react to the plane stalling led to it plunging into the sea at a speed of 11,000ft (3,352m) per minute, French investigators concluded in 2012.

While the pilots had been confused by faulty air-speed readings, they mistakenly pointed the nose of the plane upwards when it stalled instead of down. Since the crash, pilot training has been improved and the speed sensors replaced.

Amelia Earhart 

Image source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/nyregion/amelia-earhart-aviator-helmet.html

In 1937 Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the globe on a Lockheed Electra 10E. 

She took off from New Guinea with her navigator Fred Noonan on one of the last legs of the round-the-world trips to never be seen again. 

Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, but nearly 90 years later her disappearance has still not been solved. Theories ranged from a “simple” crash and sinking hypothesis at a time when aviation was much more unreliable than the present day to other possibilities such as a ditch landing and survival on an island but the pair never being found. 

Malaysia Airlines MH370

It is the most recent and perhaps the most infamous aircraft that has disappeared. The Boeing 777 aircraft vanished whilst crossing into Vietnamese airspace on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 and has remained one of the great mysteries in aviation. 

Until today, flight investigators and search teams from around the world are still attempting to search and map thousands of kilometers of the ocean floor that could reveal the fatal whereabouts of flight MH370 that led to the loss of 239 lives. 

There are a handful of theories that have ranged from hijacking including fuel depletion and eventual water landing, all the way to the plane being purposely flown to other islands or countries with unknown cargo onboard. No theory has been proven to this day, no single trace and the aircraft has still not been found.

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