It is a mystery so confounding, so incredibly full of dark possibilities, a huge portion of the human population is fixated on it. No, not even rampaging hordes of Russians in Ukraine are able to tear us away from updates concerning the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370.
The conspiracy theorists are already running amok as new details emerge which conflict wildly with previously reported information. In fact the only thing certain at the moment is nothing is certain.
Time lines provided by the Malaysian government and airline management don't agree, fueling the dizzying spin into never never land. No one really knows if the last voice message from the cockpit, the now cryptic, "All right, good night," was uttered before or after the flight navigation equipment was programmed for the mysterious left turn. The moment when the ACARS system and transponder were shut down is also lost in a great fog bank of confusion.
Yesterday CNN reported Thai radar confirmed the left turn which would head the jet back over Malaysia and toward the Straight of Malacca, but even that was old news. The Thai authorities revealed they had let the Malaysians in on the information earlier, but were just now releasing it to the public. There were also reports yesterday that witnesses in the outer Maldives saw a low flying aircraft bearing the red stripe of the Malaysian airliner, but they proved to be untrue.
At the center of it all is the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. At first blush it would appear one or both of them would be the only people on board to have the means and capability to change the computerized course and shut off the messaging systems, but again, no one can be sure. Exhaustive searches of both their homes hasn't turned up any hint they might be involved, although there is interest in the information Shah apparently deleted from his in home flight simulator.
Despite the lack of evidence, pilot suicide is high on the list of possibilities given the circumstances. That would mean, unless some outre agreement was reached between them, one of the two flight officers would have had to somehow incapacitate the other.
There has been speculation a fire occurred in the cockpit, or another part of the plane. It would be an event which would cause a sudden change in course, but there was no distress call issued. A catastrophic failure, the plane disintegrating in the air, or the more paranoid notion someone shot the Boeing 777 down would have produced wreckage. A rapid decompression would have triggered the oxygen masks to drop and even then there would have been time for a mayday.
Of course, now that we are painfully aware there are people out there capable of such things, there is wild speculation--and not just from the crazed infowars types--the jet was hijacked, landed somewhere, and is currently being outfitted for a 9-11 style attack. The airline itself is culpable in enabling this line of reasoning. Let's face it, at first anyway, they didn't even know who was really sitting in the passenger section. They were completely unaware of the presence of the two Iranians who were using passports which were stolen months ago in Thailand. The truth is, for all they, or anyone else knew, the ghost of Osama bin Laden could have been in seat 12B ordering Singapore Slings.
One poster on youtube claims the whole disappearance was co-produced by the Israeli Mossad and the CIA via remote control. His belief is a false flag operation is underway which will lead us into another war, profiting the governments of both nations. He was a bit fuzzy on where the aircraft is now, but similar theories have mentioned secret airfields everywhere from Vietnam to Pakistan.
Another claimed, a bit breathlessly, if you call the cell phones of the passengers they will ring, but no one answers. That is, I suppose, morbidly eerie--at least until you realize you can call just about any cell phone in the world and as long as the account is active--to you--it will either sound like it is ringing, or you'll go straight to the user's voice mail. It doesn't matter if he or she has the phone turned off, or is eating cold chicken and drinking chardonnay on top of Mt. Everest.
Finally, there are accusations the United States, through its network of spy satellites and the like, knows exactly what happened and where the plane either landed, or went down. In this scenario American intelligence agencies are withholding the information from Malaysia and the world because releasing it would compromise a myriad of top secret operations which we don't want anyone to know about.
Someone should call Ed Snowden in Moscow and ask him. It is, after all, his area of expertise and he doesn't mind talking.
Well, there we have it--at least for now. Although we might never know the why, the location of flight 370 and it's 239 passengers and crew is probably somewhere on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The search area now encompasses three million square miles, roughly the size of the continental U.S. The triple seven is a big plane, but that is a lot of water to cover.
The only thing we can be sure of at this point is--even if searchers find the plane tomorrow--because of the way officials in Malaysia botched the aftermath, there will be vast numbers of people who will refuse to believe them when they tell us what really did happen.
Of that we can be assured.