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An Investigator Claims He’s Found The Missing MH370 Plane – And That It’s Completely Bullet-Ridden

Image: via Daily Star / Laurent Errera

The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ Flight MH370 in early 2014 has been an enduring mystery. An exhaustive multinational air and sea search was undertaken after the commercial plane vanished from air-traffic radar screens. Reportedly, those efforts amounted to the most expensive exercise of its kind ever – but, alas, it was all to little avail. But now, an Australian amateur investigator says that he has located the wreckage of Flight 370. Furthermore, he claims the image also points to a sinister end for the long-lost passenger jet.

Image: via Assombrado

In the early hours of March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a scheduled route to Beijing. Aboard the China-bound Boeing 777-200 were 227 passengers and 12 crew. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, was at the controls. Like all of the dozen crew members, Zaharie was a Malaysian national. The captain had been flying with the country’s carrier since 1981, when he had joined Malaysian Airlines as a cadet. The expected time in the air was five hours and 24 minutes – but we are still waiting for touch down. As the world now knows, the ill-fated flight never reached its destination.

Image: via NY Daily News

When Flight 370 took off that morning, Zaharie had an admirable flying time of 18,365 hours. And, as well as being a qualified pilot, he was an experienced instructor and examiner. Beside him in the cockpit was First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, who had been with Malaysian Airlines since 2007. The co-pilot had also joined the carrier as a cadet, and he had a considerable 2,763 hours of flying time under his belt. Although an experienced pilot, Fariq was relatively new to the Boeing 777-200. However, the Beijing flight would be the last part of his training in preparation for operating this model of plane.

Image: Masakatsu Ukon

So the two pilots of Flight 370, especially Captain Zaharie, were highly experienced flyers – albeit First Officer Fariq was less familiar with the Boeing 777-200. But what about the plane itself? Well, this model of Boeing air transportation was first introduced into commercial service in 1995 and its safety record is excellent.

Image: Chris Finney

In fact, a mere 0.4 percent of the leading aviation manufacturers’ 777 series have ever crashed or had a critical incident. Unsurprisingly, this figure compares very well with other types of passenger jet. Boeing has produced 1,412 of these planes and, up until 2016, just six 777s had been written off because of fire, crash or attack.

However, those six included the fateful Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Tragically, this Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur jet was shot down with an anti-aircraft missile by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine on July 17, 2014. This resulted in the loss of all 298 passengers and an international uproar. This crime took place just four months after the disappearance of Flight 370.

Image: Craig

Clearly, the loss of Flight 17 was not a safety issue and is unconnected to the disappearance of Flight 370. Nevertheless, it has to be said that 2014 was truly a horrible year for Malaysia Airlines. The carrier actually took delivery of the Boeing 777-200 used on Flight 370 some 12 years before. However, the plane had undergone a comprehensive maintenance check just one month before what turned out to be its final journey.

Image: David McKelvey

After Flight 370’s take-off from Kuala Lumpur Airport at 12:42 a.m. local time, there was nothing initially untoward whatsoever. Captain Zaharie took the plane up to 18,000 feet, heading for a navigational waypoint. Having left contact with the operators at his base airport, Zaharie secured air-traffic control communication with Lumpur Radar. It would not be long before Flight 370 was given scheduled clearance to climb to 35,000 feet.

Image: Riyad Filza

Indeed, at 1:01 a.m. the crew confirmed with Lumpur radar that Flight 370 had reached the cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. The cockpit confirmed that they were holding at this altitude again at 1:08 a.m. The final words between Captain Zaharie and Lumpur Radar came at 1:19 a.m. The Lumpur Radar operative signed off, “Malaysian three-seven-zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one-two-zero decimal nine. Good night.” Captain Zaharie confirmed, “Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero.”

Image: Lars Steffens

Nonetheless, although that was the last human communication from Flight 370, it was not the last signal received. The aircraft was picked up by the Ho Chi Minh radar center a minute or two after that last verbal message. At that point it was still at its altitude of 35,000 feet and traveling at a speed of 542 mph. But then Captain Zaharie’s plane disappeared from the normal commercial flight radar systems in Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam altogether.

Image: AHeneen

However, the flight could still be detected by forces radar for a time, and it was observed making a right and then a left turn off course. At 2:22 a.m. – 100 minutes after it took off – Flight 370 also vanished from Malaysian military radar. At this point it was about 280 miles northwest of Penang Airport in east Malaysia with a reduced altitude of 29,500 feet. The plane’s automated satellite communication system continued to operate for a while, but that also ceased at 8:19 a.m.

Image: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Nevertheless, Flight 370 had been due to land in Beijing at 5:06 a.m. News of the flight’s disappearance was made public by Malaysia at 7:24 a.m. The announcement made it clear that there had been no reports of technical problems, weather conditions had been fine, and no transmission of a distress call had been received. The information about the missing Flight 370 was met with shocked dismay.

Image: How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

Soon enough, the international media was roused, military and civilian search missions were dispatched and investigators got busy. They scoured the surrounding areas under the flight path for the next two weeks and came up with nothing. On March 24, Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, gave a press conference. During the briefing, he said that the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the satellite company Inmarsat had told him that the plane’s last known position had been over the Southern Indian Ocean. Confusingly, this position was way off Flight 370’s route trajectory. Najib went on to say that, with no land in the vicinity, the only viable conclusion was that the plane had ditched into the sea.

Image: Rahman Roslan/Getty Images

But how had this come about? That was the question the by now watching world wanted an immediate answer to. Not least of whom were the grieving relatives of the 239 people on board. As the months went by, speculation around the globe grew in the absence of any news or further information. Various theories emerged from a variety of sources about the fate of Flight 370 – some considerably more plausible than others.

The idea that the pilot might have been responsible for a hideous murder-suicide was floated, and continued to be hotly debated. In July 2016 – more than two years after the disappearance – New York magazine reported that a flight simulator had been found at Zaharie’s home. The periodical claimed that the technology had included a route similar to the supposed eventual journey of Flight 370 to the Southern Indian Ocean. But this evidence was nowhere near enough to posthumously finger Zaharie.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh – well-known as a shock jock but less renowned as an aviation expert – speculated that the flight may well have been shot down. But Scott Mayerowitz of the Associated Press maintained that there was “no evidence that Flight 370 was brought down by a government entity.”

Image: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The possibility that the Beijing-bound flight had been hijacked en route was also a popular theory. Perhaps, it was thought, the hijackers could have spirited the plane away to a shady destination. More conjecture had it that there could have been a catastrophic fire on board Flight 370. Others hypothesized that the aircraft could have been victim to a cyber attack by forces unknown. One wide-eyed commentator even wondered if the plane might have been swallowed by a black hole.

Image: Official U.S. Navy Page

Nonetheless, one thing was definitely verifiably true. Although small pieces of identifiable wreckage had washed ashore at various Indian Ocean locations, despite extensive searches, the main body of the plane had not been found. By the time the search was called off in January 2017, an estimated $168 million has been spent on unsuccessful attempts to locate Flight 370.

Image: via Daily Star

But then in March 2018, there came an unexpected breakthrough. One Peter McMahon claimed to the world’s media that he had located the final resting place of the plane. The 64-year-old Australian is a mechanical engineer, but says he has spent 25 years as an amateur aviation crash investigator. And, never mind the hi-tech international search mission, McMahon said he had found Flight 370 by simply perusing Google Earth. Furthermore, he had found evidence of foul play – he said the fuselage of the doomed airplane was riddled with bullet holes.

Image: via Daily Star

Apparently, McMahon had spotted the wreck of the aircraft by zooming in on Google Earth to the north of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Like any good citizen, McMahon fired off screen grabs of the downed plane to the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau. The agency’s response, as reported by U.K. tabloid The Star was succinct. It read, “The images sent to ATSB by Mr. McMahon… were captured on 6 Nov, 2009 more than four years before the flight disappeared.” It seems McMahon’s “find” should be filed with the out-of-this-world claims that Flight 370 had disappeared into a black hole.