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Top 10 Unsolved Flight Mysteries

July 30, 2018

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has left experts perplexed, leading to a variety of unsubstantiated theories about what might have happened. Unfortunately, if history is any judge, its possible we may never know. Here are 10 other examples of missing flights that vanished without a trace, and remain unsolved to this day.

Number 10. Amelia Earhart.
Perhaps the most famous missing pilot in history, Amelia Earhart vanished over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island in 1937 during an attempt to become the first female to circumnavigate the globe by flight. Though some clues have emerged over the years, and theories abound, Earhart’s plane has yet to be found. A recent discovery off the coast of Nikumaroro island, an uninhabited tropical atoll in the southwestern Pacific, offers new hope that the Earhart mystery may soon have a resolution. A sonar scan has revealed what some experts believe could be Earhart’s crashed Lockheed Electra plane, and an expedition to the island is scheduled in 2014 to look into the findings. Lending credence to the evidence, researchers have previously found what appears to be a jar of thirties era freckle cream on Nikumaroro island, along with an American made woman’s compact, buttons and the zipper from a flight jacket. Could this be Earhart’s final resting place? We will have to wait for the expedition to know for sure.

Number 9. Transatlantic C 124 Flight.
This is a strange one. On the late afternoon of March 23, 1951, a US Air Force Douglas C 124 Globemaster the second on its way to England ditched into the ocean. An explosion in the cargo hold and the ensuing fire forced the pilots to put the plane down in the Atlantic, a few hundred miles from Ireland. The exact location was radioed by the pilots, and the ditching itself was successful. The 53 passengers and crew aboard the flight donned life preservers and climbed aboard well-equipped emergency rafts. A “B” 29 had already been en route with the intention of aiding the plane in its navigation to the nearest airfield. When it arrived at the location transmitted by the pilots, the crew of the “B” 29 observed the passengers and crew in their rafts. It seemed everyone was okay. The “B” 29 then had to return to base, as it was running low on fuel. However, when rescue crews arrived, the plane and the stricken passengers had all disappeared without a trace. All that was left was a piece of charred plywood and a briefcase. Nobody knows what happened in those hours while help was on the way.

Number 8. 2016 Indian Air Force Disappearance.
On July 22, 2016, A 32 twin-engine transport aircraft belonging to the Indian Air Force disappeared while flying over the Bay of Bengal. There were 29 people on board at the time. 23 passengers and six crew members. Radar contact was lost at 9 12 AM, and the ensuing search and rescue operation would become the largest in Indian history. Sixteen ships, a submarine, and six aircraft were deployed to aid in the search in and around the Bay of Bengal. On September 15, 2016, the mission was called off, and all aboard were presumed dead.

Number 7. N 8 4 4 A A.
On May 25, 2003, a Boeing 727, registered as N 8 4 4 A A, was stolen from Quatro de Fevereiro Airport in Angola. Shortly before sunset, two men boarded the aircraft. American pilot Ben Padilla and mechanic John Mutantu. Neither was certified to fly the 727, which normally flies with a flight crew of three. It is believed that Padilla was the one at the controls. The aircraft made its way onto the runway without clearance and without communicating with the control tower. With its lights switched off and a few erratic manoeuvres, the plane thundered down the runway and took off, heading southwest over the ocean. Since then, neither the two men nor the aircraft has been seen. The disappearance of N 8 4 4 A A prompted a worldwide search by the FBI and the CIA. Despite this, no trace of the aircraft has ever been found.

Number 6. Flight 19.
Perhaps the most disputed plane disappearance occurred in early December 1945, when not one but six planes vanished, which have yet to be recovered. On that day, in average weather conditions, five Avenger torpedo bombers, which are well known in the aviation community for their immensity, took off from their base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for bombing practice in what has since become known as the Bermuda Triangle. After experiencing problems with their compasses, the five planes lost communication with the ground station. However, the ground station could still follow communications between the pilots of the planes, during which it was noted that they became disoriented as to their locations and decided that once the first plane dropped below 10 gallons of fuel all planes were to ditch to the sea. An intensive rescue mission ensued immediately by the Coast Guard and navy that covered seven hundred thousand square kilometres over five days, during which another plane carrying 13 passengers disappeared, never to be found again. The only clue as to its fate was a report from an ocean liner that was in the supposed location of the plane at that specific time claiming to have seen a giant fireball in the sky. However, to the date of this publication, no debris of the six missing planes or their passengers has been found, thus sparking the mysterious aura surrounding the legendary Bermuda Triangle.

Number 5. Star Tiger & Star Ariel.
Two separate flights of Avro Tudor planes that went missing in the Bermuda Triangle have added fuel to the fire about the mythology of that region. The Star Tiger disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean while on a flight between Santa Maria in the Azores and Bermuda on January 30th, 1948. The flight experienced extreme weather and winds during the flight, so investigators assume the plane was blown off course and ran out of fuel, or was forced to crash-land in the choppy waters. The Star Ariels disappearance was far more mysterious, however. It took off in excellent weather conditions on January 17th, 1949, on a flight between Bermuda and Kingston, Jamaica. The last radio transmission from the flight reported good visibility and smooth flying, but the plane was never heard from or seen again. The entire fleet of Tudor was retired after both the Star Tiger and Star Ariel were lost within the span of 12 months.

Number 4. Helios Airways Flight 522.
On August 14th, 2005, air traffic controllers in Greece lost contact with Helios Airways Flight 522, but the plane remained in the holding pattern for Athens Airport for more than an hour. At one point, a Greek fighter jet was scrambled and spotted the pilot slumped over the controls. Around half an hour later the plane started to descend, crashing into the hills near Grammatiko, killing all 121 passengers and crew which later came to be known as the deadliest air disaster in Greek history. An investigation revealed that a gradual loss of cabin pressure had left the crew incapacitated.

Number 3. Flying Tiger Flight 739.
On March 16th, 1962, Flying Tiger Flight 739 disappeared from radar screens over the ocean. The Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft was carrying 93 US and three South Vietnamese soldiers from California to Saigon. All 107 aboard the plane are presumed to have died in the incident. No traces of wreckage or debris have ever been found. The only lead investigators have is an eyewitness account from a nearby civilian tanker, which reported seeing an extremely bright flash of light, immediately followed by two red dots plummeting to the ocean at different speeds. It is believed that the tanker witnessed the missing aircraft explode mid-flight, during which it split in two and fell to the ocean in separate fireballs. The most reasonable assumption, given the evidence, is sabotage. However, since five hundred and eighteen thousand square kilometres of searching has turned up nothing, it is likely we will never get the true answers.

Number 2. Boeing 727.
The former American Airlines jet was owned by the Miami based company Aerospace Sales & Leasing, and being leased to TAG Angola Airlines at the time of its disappearance. Ben Charles Padilla a certified flight engineer, aircraft mechanic, and private pilot and helper John Mikel Mutantu were working with Angolan mechanics to return the 727 to flight ready status after a business deal gone bad. Neither man could fly it. Mutant was not a pilot and Padilla had only a private pilots license. A 727 requires a three-person trained crew. After Padilla and Mutantu boarded the plane, the aircraft began taxiing and manoeuvring erratically with no communication between the crew and the control tower. The 727 took off with its transponder and lights off. The jet and the two men have not been seen since. While it’s believed that Padilla was at the controls, some members of his family claim he was hired to repossess the jet after Air Angola failed to make payments, while others fear he was being held against his will.

Number 1. M H 370.
Pilot suicide. Mechanical failure. Hijacking. Theories continue to multiply daily regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight M H 370, which disappeared on March 8th, 2014. What we know so far is that Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members disappeared from radar approximately an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. The plane, heading for Beijing, China, was declared lost by the Malaysian government five hours after take off. It was last detected at a normal cruising altitude of thirty-five thousand feet about 140 miles southwest of Vietnams southernmost province. Four days after the flight disappeared, Malaysian officials revealed evidence that the plane had turned toward the Malacca Strait, which put it on the opposite side of the Malay Peninsula, away from its scheduled route. Combined with the knowledge that the 777 changed altitudes first reaching forty-five thousand feet and then dropping to about twenty-three thousand feet and may have flown for as many as six hours after the last official message received, investigators believe that catastrophic failure is a highly unlikely scenario and the change in direction was, in fact, intentional.

That’s it for this list. If there are any other mysterious flight disappearances we have missed that should be on this list please drop us a comment and we will include it in the next one. Hope you enjoyed watching as much as we enjoyed making it for you.

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