Remembering MH370

Today (8 March) is the anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. To date MH370 hasn’t featured much in my research on memorialisation of plane crashes – see, for example, Developing a Model to Explain Modifications to Public Transportation Accident Memorials and my work on the JL123 crash, primarily, of course, because the exact location and details of the accident have never been established.

For those unfamiliar with the case, here is the summary from Wikipedia:

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370) was a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Malaysia Airlines that disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia to its planned destination, Beijing Capital International Airport. The crew of the Boeing 777-200ER registered as 9M-MRO, last communicated with air traffic control (ATC) around 38 minutes after takeoff when the flight was over the South China Sea. The aircraft was lost from ATC radar screens minutes later, but was tracked by military radar for another hour, deviating westwards from its planned flight path, crossing the Malay Peninsula and Andaman Sea. It left radar range 200 nautical miles (370 km) northwest of Penang Island in northwestern Peninsular Malaysia. With all 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard presumed dead, the disappearance of Flight 370 was the deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777 and the deadliest in Malaysia Airlines’ history until it was surpassed in both regards by Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down while flying over conflict-stricken Eastern Ukraine four months later. The combined loss caused significant financial problems for Malaysia Airlines, which was renationalised by the Malaysian government in August 2014.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370

I still remember getting a message through from Keith Haines, a retired JAL employee – who features in my book Osutaka – saying that MH370 had gone missing. I also remember checking the Flightradar24 website and posts.

https://www.facebook.com/flightradar24/photos/a.116008071771958/678827542156672/
https://www.facebook.com/flightradar24/photos/a.116008071771958/679309148775178/

In the coming days, like many others, I scoured satellite/Google Earth like images hoping to spot any signs of the plane when they were shared online and people were asked to help with the search. Alas, there was no sign of the plane – despite all the help that was offered in the early days (and would continue for many months to come)

I’m still not sure why Japan isn’t included (echoes of the liberation of Kuwait in 1990 – albeit this time they are provided actual help rather than just money).

About a month later, I was in Malaysia. I was mostly on holiday in Hong Kong, but, to help with my research about aviation, I flew down to KL to conduct an interview at Air Asia (largely to find out what was happening with Air Asia Japan). That in itself was interesting as I had been due to have the interview in KL, but upon checking my emails as the taxi left the airport, I discovered that it had been moved to the airport, so I had to explain and persuade the driver to turn around. He wasn’t happy as he lost out on a large fare and, I assume, had to re-join the long queue to get a customer who wanted to go more than a 500 metre round trip.

After meeting up with friends in the evening, the next day I walked from my hotel to the central station to catch a train back to the airport. During this 3 mile walk (which was much hotter and more draining than I had planned for), I came across many signs (literally) of how MH370 was still on the minds of many people and organisations…

And the signs didn’t end on the streets. There was even one on the train TO THE AIRPORT from where many would soon be catching a plane. Not ideal for a nervous flyer.

But, it turned out, this was not the worst moment in that respect. That came around the time that I was taking the following photograph.

For reasons that I didn’t fully understand, the captain announced when we were nearly at the point where MH370 disappeared from radars. The cabin crew were clearly not impressed. Neither were many passengers. Still the captain went on and said he would let us know when we got to the exact point in about 5 minutes. In the end, he didn’t. Whether this was because a complaint had been made or because we hit some turbulence (can you believe the timing!) at that point, I don’t know. Either way, the whole incident was not what I needed and I could have easily added in my first post on “Flying Experiences“.

Returning to MH370, I really hope that one day the mystery will be solved, that lessons have been learnt from what happened, My thoughts are with the victims and the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the accident.

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