Free Press Journal

Cases of missing plane


New Delhi: The baffling disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft has been the focus of global attention for four days now, but there have been quite a few such incidents in the past when planes have vanished without trace.

The incidents, which occurred in various parts of the world, include that of ace pilot Amelia Earhart whose twin- engined aircraft disappeared while she was flying solo over the Pacific in 1937 attempting to circumnavigate the globe. A massive search effort was abandoned and she was officially declared dead two years later.

A series of instances of disappearance of planes have occurred on the Bermuda Triangle (also called the ‘Devil’s Triangle’), mostly between 1940s and 1960s. The region, located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida, has seen the disappearance of a number of aircraft and ships under mysterious circumstances.

These include two passenger jets in January and December 1948, carrying 25 and 36 passengers, and another passenger plane with 20 on board in January 1949.

In 1945, five American bombers were on a training mission in the same area and were never recovered. The plane sent to find them also vanished on the same day on December 5, 1945.

A US military flight, Flying Tiger Line Flight 739, disappeared on March 16 1962 over the Western Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. There was no trace of the Lockheed L- 1049 Super Constellation airliner chartered by the US military and all 107 aboard were declared missing and presumed dead after almost a year-long search.

In 1947, a British South American Airways flight, with 11 people on board, vanished in the Andes Mountains. 51 years later, Argentinian rock climbers discovered its wreckage and an army expedition later found the human remains as well.

In 1972, an Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 also crashed into the Andes mountains, killing 12 people. While eight survivors were killed in an avalanche few days later, remaining 16 were found more than two months after the aircraft had vanished.

An Airbus A-330, operating Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board.

After five days of search, rescue teams could find the wreck and it took another three years for investigators to unearth that ice crystals had caused the autopilot to disconnect.