With the perplexing disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, many people have been wondering how a plane can disappear, especially considering all the technology and procedures in place to prevent that from happening. There is actually a long list of aircraft that have disappeared throughout world history. Let’s take a look at the five most recent examples.
Mount Waddington, BC, Canada
In October of 1967, a Britten-Norman BN-2A-6 Islander flying for a small Canadian airline failed to arrive at its destination airport. According to data retrieved from air traffic control records, the small plane is thought to have crashed in the area of Mount Waddington, British Columbia. Standing in the heart of the Pacific mountain ranges, Mount Waddington’s terrain has made locating any wreckage extremely difficult. Between how long ago the crash is thought to have occurred, and the difficult terrain, it would nearly take a miracle to find the wreckage. All four passengers and crew are presumed dead.
The five passengers and crew of a Aerolineas La Paz owned Douglas C-47A-75-DL, a plane similar to the DC-6 known for its wide commercial use as well as military use, are thought to have lost their lives due to unknown conditions. The plane was heading between the La Paz airport and Apolo airport in Bolivia during a routine cargo flight in January of 1989. The crash area is not known, only that it was thought to have gone down between the departure and arrival airports.
Molo Strait, Indonesia
Flying between Bima Airport and Ruteng Airpot in Indonesia, this DHC-6 Twin Otter by de Havilland, operated by Merpati Nusantara Airlines, ran into inclement weather over the Sea of Flores. It’s guessed that the flight went down somewhere at sea, much like MH370. Even nearly 20 years later, the wreckage hasn’t been found from the January 1995 flight, nor any sign of its 14 passengers and crew.
Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire, Africa
This is a very interesting case. This Antonov 72, a mid-sized twin jet engine cargo jet, took off from Abidjan-Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport in Cote d`Ivoire with a destination of Rundu Airport along the west coast of Africa. Official reports indicate that the plane went missing somewhere over the ocean, however some reports have indicated that the Angolan Air Force actually shot the plane down over the Atlantic. Until a crash site is found and the plane is examined, no one can be sure of which is indeed the case. All five passengers aboard are presumed perished.
In May of 2003, Ben Padilla, a flight engineer, boarded a Boeing 727 at the Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport in Angola. Also aboard was a mechanic Padilla had hired to help him. Padilla was a licensed private pilot, but had no training on large commercial airliners, and the mechanic had no flight experience at all. All told, they shouldn’t have been able to pilot the plane at all.
Yet, much to the amazement and worry of the tower, the plane began taxying recklessly towards a runway without communicating. It then took off without having clearance, and as far as anyone is sure, that’s the last time the two men or the plane was seen.
The similarities between MH370 and this 727 are quite alluring. Much like the recent disappearance, the 727 has completely disappeared. Immediately after the disappearance, a terrorist alert was sent as it was thought to be a hijacking. Soon after, the alert was canceled, but it’s unclear as to the reason why. It’s thought perhaps an intelligence agency spotted a crash site via satellite, but Padillas sister who has been on the hunt for her brother since his disappearance, was not made aware of any suspected crash site. The FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and the US Department of State all had become involved in the search at one point or another, yet the aircraft was never seen of or heard from again.
Both of the known crew members, Padilla and his assistant are nowhere to be found either. Some speculators have suggested that perhaps the aircraft had landed in the Congo, which has several large unpaved runways, while others suggest that it never really left the airport, that it was a conspiracy to collect an insurance payout by the planes owners. In the end, the only sure fact that remains is that it’s nowhere to be found.