Maldives residents saw 'low-flying jumbo jet' on March 8: Report
PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Residents of Kuda Huvadhoo in Dhaal Atoll in the Maldives reportedly saw a "low-flying jumbo jet" flying over houses early in the morning of March 8, the same day Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing.
In a report by Maldivian daily Haveeru, residents described the aircraft which flew over Kuda Huvadhoo at around 6:15am as being white, with red stripes across it.
This colour scheme is very similar to the livery used by Malaysia Airlines on its aircraft - including the Boeing 777 used for MH370.
Eyewitnesses who saw the aircraft agreed that it was travelling in a north to south-east heading towards Addu, the southern tip of the Maldives, and all commented on the very loud noise the aircraft made when flying over the island.
One noted that the doors on the aircraft could be seen clearly, a fact that was also agreed upon by other eyewitnesses.
"Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too," said the eyewitness. It was reported that Island Councillor Mohamed Zaheem had said other Kuda Huvadhoo residents had spoken up about the incident.
Haveeru had also quoted a local aviation expert, who said it was likely for MH370 to have flown over the Maldives, adding that the possibility of any aircraft flying over the island was extremely low.
MH370, which left Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing on March 8, has been in the international spotlight since it disappeared in the early hours of that same day along with its 239 passengers and crew.
Its not likely the CIA would take a large target for an individual.
But it is likely the CIA were forced to take the plane to prevent its 'classified cargo' from being intercepted by Chinese authorities in Beijing.
If the CIA learned that China had discovered the cargo onboard was not 'lithium batteries' for a US Corporation in Beijing, but was actually specialized equipment for US agents, while the flight was in route, the CIA would have little choice but to take that aircraft and cargo to a secure location like DG.
Team members likely prevented passengers from using their cell phones by quickly going up to 45,000 feet to suffocate from hypoxia before they'd realize anything unusual, once landing in DG and unloading their cargo, the plane would be towed to the deepest area and sunk.
Sure are a lot of Maldivians awake at 6:15 am on a Saturday. I hear it is a lovely holiday destination, but apparently, you won't want to live or work there. Need to be awake before 6:15. Perhaps to cook breakfast for the tourists.
Google earth. I did google earth search and looked at Diego Garcia. saw planes there on the ground. military types. No sign of MH370. Google earth is under the US Navy. You can zoom in to see the runway, even the tyre marks on it.
A map of the Indian Ocean showing the known location of the last radio call by MH370 and the place where Maldivian islanders said they might have seen it. Google Maps / IBTimes
According to a local newspaper, residents of a remote island in the Maldives, Kuda Huvadhoo, spotted a plane at 6:15 a.m. local time on March 8 that could have been the missing Malaysia Airlines 370. Eyewitnesses cited by the paper said they saw "a jumbo jet," white with red stripes across it, flying low and very loudly. The description of a big airplane in those colors is consistent with the Malaysian Boeing 777.
The islanders said they did not recall ever seeing an airplane there, and at that height, before, making it unlikely that what they had seen was a normal takeoff or landing by another passenger jet.
The time of the sighting also matches what we can deduct about the plane's range and its known whereabouts.
6:15 a.m. in the Maldives is 9:15 a.m. in Malaysia, so the sighting would have occurred seven hours and 45 minutes after the last radio contact, the now-famous "All right, goodnight" at 1:30 a.m. Malaysian time over the Gulf of Thailand.
A 777 series 200ER, with a nearly full load of 227 passengers and 12 crew, cargo, and fuel for the scheduled five and a half hour trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, plus reserves, would typically be able to stay in the air for a maximum of about eight hours. That makes the presence of the aircraft at 6 in the morning local time in the middle of the northern Indian Ocean technically possible.
In fact, the distance between the point of last radio contact and Kuda Huvadhoo is 2,000 miles, which a 777 at cruise speed would cover in far less time. Flying in a straight line from the Gulf of Thailand, MH370 would have appeared over the island no later than 3 a.m. local time, well before sunrise.
But the plane may not have flown in a straight line, for whatever reason: possibly a hijacking, and maybe the crew's attempt to foil it. Or it may have flown at very low level to avoid detection, where the air is thicker and jet planes fly slower because of added drag. It may also have been flying at reduced speed to conserve fuel, either because whoever controlled the plane wanted to maximize its range, or because jet engines are less efficient at low altitude.
One thing the Maldivian eyewitnesses did not mention, at least in the local newspaper's account, is seeing signs of the onboard fire that some experts say could have incapacitated or killed the crew while the plane kept flying on autopilot.
The idea of a fire as cause for MH370 crashing was first floated by a pilot on Google Plus last weekend, and went viral. It rests on the assumption that the pilots, far from being in on some nefarious plot, were heroes who steered the plane toward the most convenient airport for an emergency landing as soon as they realized that they had a fire or some other grave problem.
That airport would have been on the island of Langkawi off the west coast of Malaysia, exactly on the compass heading that the plane took when it turned westward over the South China Sea. Then the crew succumbed to the fire, or to lack of oxygen, and the plane kept flying on autopilot until fuel ran out.
But the fire plus emergency diversion theory, as compelling as it is and similar to other known incidents, leaves one question unanswered. If the pilots tried for a landing at Langkawi and missed because they became incapacitated, the autopilot would have kept them flying straight and level on the last compass heading. (Which would have taken MH370 more or less over Kuda Huvadhoo, by the way.)
Yet we know from Malaysian military radar tracking that after passing the west coast of Malaysia, MH370 zigzagged north and west, toward the Andaman Islands, following precise waypoints. Shortly before reaching the Andamans, it was lost to radar, and might have possibly made the Maldives, before disappearing toward one of the two arcs -- one in Central Asia, the other off the west coast of Australia -- where satellite pings say it must have ended its flight.
A chart from the Malaysian government showing the last known possible position of MH370 based on satellite communication. U.S. authorities believe the plane is to be found along the southern red arc. Malaysian Prime Minister's Office
So, either someone was entering those waypoints in the flight management computers, or the computers had been programmed earlier to send the plane there. The former option is not consistent with an unconscious or dead crew. The latter makes no sense for a crew in a dire emergency, looking for the closest place to land -- unless one wants to believe the improbable and now-debunked scenario that hackers were steering the plane.
If the Maldivian sighting is not a false lead, then, it lends strength to the theory that MH370 must have ditched or crashed in the ocean.
It did not land at the airport of the Maldives' capital Male, and the closest airport big enough for a 777, Mahe in the Seychelles Islands, 1,400 miles away, hasn't seen the missing jet, which could not have had enough fuel to get there anyway if it really overflew Kuda Huvadhoo when the eyewitnesses said it did. The U.S. and British airbase at Diego Garcia is closer, 800 miles away, and also has a runway long enough for the jet, but has not reported sighting the aircraft either.
As for the coast of Africa, lawless Somalia, an ideal place for a hijacked plane to land, is 2,000 miles from the Maldives. That would have been too far for Malaysian 370, and was also likely among the first places that spy satellites would have scoured for signs of a giant, easily visible airplane, which they did not see. And as Wednesday dawned in Malaysia, neither had anyone else, for the eleventh day since the mystery began.