Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tian. Tian Wonders, “What happened to Malaysian flight 370?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tian!
In March 2014, another question was added to the list. Where is Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? It may seem strange to think that people could have lost an entire airplane. But read on, and you’ll find that’s just the first of many unanswered questions in this case.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) took off at 12:41 a.m. on March 8, 2014. It departed on a Boeing 777 from Kuala Lumpur with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. The plane was meant to land in Beijing the next morning, but it never arrived.
What happened? No one knows with certainty. Many conspiracy theories have formed around the mystery. These have been largely discredited. However, experts have a few educated guesses about what actually happened to the plane and its passengers.
Let’s start with the facts. MH370 reached an altitude of 35,000 feet at 1:01 a.m. At 1:19, someone in the cockpit—likely the pilot or co-pilot—made verbal contact with air traffic controllers. They said, “Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero.” Two minutes later, the plane’s transponder was switched off.
At around the same time, MH370 changed course. Originally heading northeast, it made a turn and began traveling south and west. It disappeared from Malaysian radar after 2:15 a.m. It was later found that the plane was detected by satellite until 8:11 a.m., after which it disappeared completely.
What happened to MH370 and the 239 people onboard? Many people have worked to answer this question since 2014. The search for the plane started in the South China Sea. However, it wasn’t until July 2015 that the first sign of the plane was found—a six-feet-long piece of airfoil. It washed up on the island of Réunion. Upon inspection, it was found to come from a Boeing 777, and serial numbers revealed it was from MH370.
Since then, more debris thought to be from MH370 has washed ashore. They have been found in Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Mauritius. Based on the locations of these pieces, experts now believe MH370 crashed somewhere in the South Indian Ocean.
The plane’s passengers came from China, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, the U.S., Iran, Ukraine, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Russia, and Taiwan. Despite the efforts of people across the globe to unravel this mystery, many questions are still unanswered. Why did the plane change course? Why was the transponder switched off? When did it crash, and exactly where? Was it the work of a hijacker or one of the pilots?
Some of these questions may never be answered. Still, many continue to search for answers. They hope to locate more pieces of MH370, including the plane’s two black boxes. They hope these could hold the key to understanding what truly happened to the missing plane.
What do you think happened to MH370? How do you think we can stop it from happening again? Put your thinking cap on and start looking for creative solutions. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to solve one of the 21st century’s greatest mysteries!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2