Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance is proving to be a major mystery for investigators, emergency workers, and the whole world. Speculation runs rampant, however, nobody knows yet what happened. Nobody even knows exactly where the plane is. Other disasters have been shrouded in mystery also, and flight numbers, like MH370, have been retired. Here are some of the worst mysterious aviation disasters.
Air France Flight 447
On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Small pieces of data were investigators’ only clue as to where the plane was, and what actually happened.
According to “Popular Mechanics,” the black boxes were recovered from under 2 miles of water in 2011, after two years of investigation. They confirmed that the pilots climbed, stalled, and overcorrected more than once after flying into a series of thunderstorms that caused ice to build up on the airspeed sensors. After pilots’ instruments start functioning normally again, they tried to regain control of the plane, but lost what little control they had left. Flight 447 went down in the ocean, killing all 228 aboard.
TWA Flight 800
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded near New York City, killing all 230 aboard. Some witnesses said they saw a streak of light head towards the plane just before the explosion, setting off speculations about a terrorist attack and other possible conspiracies.
In 2013, according to “USAToday,” former investigators, in a documentary about the flight, asked the National Transportation Safety Board to reopen the investigation into Flight 800. The NTSB spent four years investigating the disaster, and determined that a fuel tank exploded, which caused the plane to break up. However, they never found what caused the tank to ignite.
EgyptAir Flight 990
EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed off the coast of Nantucket around 30 minutes after takeoff from JFK International Airport in New York City. The plane descended 14,000 feet in 36 seconds, to crash in the water another 90 seconds later.
According to CNN’s report at the time, the pilots never issued a distress call. Today, nobody knows why the plane went down. The captain was a very experienced pilot, with over 10,000 hours logged. To this day, nobody knows what actually happened. The International Business Times recently discussed the theory that the pilot committed suicide, though Egypt denies that theory.
“Flight 191” doesn’t refer to a single disaster, but a series of disasters with that flight number. The worst is American Airlines Flight 191, which crashed just after takeoff from O’Hare International Airport on May 25, 1979, after its right engine tore away from the wing. All 273 aboard were killed.
Delta Airlines Flight 191 crashed right before landing at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport on August 2, 1985, after hitting a microburst at 600 feet. The plane hit the field hard, bounced up in the air, and came down again on a highway, where the No. 1 engine killed a driver. 136 of the 167 passengers aboard that flight were killed.
In 2012, JetBlue Flight 191 had to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, TX, because its pilot suffered a severe panic attack. NBC News reported that JetBlue’s CEO said the pilot was a “consummate professional” and that there was no indication of this type of problem at all.
Delta and American have both retired the number 191. This is fairly common after major disasters, because airlines don’t want to relive the tragedies over and over. The Wall Street Journal reports that Malaysia Airlines will retire the number 370, and replace it with others.