Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will have remained missing without a trace for one full year, assuming that searchers don’t find any evidence of the plane in the southern Indian Ocean between now and March 8. And that’s a pretty good bet, considering that about 9,200 square miles — an area roughly the size of New Hampshire — has now been searched, turning up absolutely nothing.
But what if the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is not in the Indian Ocean at all? What if Flight MH370 flew north instead of south once it passed over Indonesia, where it was not even detected on radar as it flew by?
That’s the idea proposed by aviation expert and science writer Jeff Wise, who who been one of the most outspoken independent voices regarding the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery. And in separate articles published this week both on his personal blog and in New York Magazine, Wise also says he has a good idea of where the plane may have landed — and the plane may even still be there, buried under the barren earth.
Wise calls his scenario “The Spoof,” because it would require that an technically ingenious hijacker “spoof,” that is, falsify certain satellite data, to disguise the fact that the plane was flying north toward Russia rather than south toward the remote Indian Ocean, or possibly even Antarctica.
Wise has now elaborated on his earlier research, not only locating the largely abandoned, former Soviet Union airfield where he believes the plane would have landed, but identifying a patch of ground, viewable in satellite images, that appears to be a large, recently-excavated rectangular pit, just big enough to fit a Boeing 777-200, such as MH370.
The Russian-controlled airfield is known as Yubileyniy Aerodrome, and in the 1980s was the landing strip for the Soviet space shuttle. The runway, visible in the image at the top of this page, is located within the vast Baikonur Cosmodrome — the same space complex from which the Soviets launched the first Sputnik satellite almost 60 years ago — in what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan, about 1,300 miles southeast of Moscow.
But Yubileyniy, Wise noted, is located in a vast, flat plain with nowhere to hide an aircraft as large as the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. That’s why, Wise proposes, a large pit may have been dug to hide the aircraft by burying it underground.
If Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 actually flew to Yubileyniy Aerodrome, it would have landed before dawn, with just enough time to get it buried before the sun came up and satellites with their eyes in the sky started watching again.
Here is a “before” image of Yubileyniy Aerodrome, taken in 2012. Note the building to the right, and the undisturbed area of ground to its left.
And here is how the area appeared in an image located by Wise in October of 2013. Note the large rectangular area to the left of the building, which Wise says appears to be a a massive “pile of dirt or a hole.”
Finally, here is how the area appeared in a satellite image taken in April, 2014 — about a month after the baffling disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
The building is gone, and the rectangular pit appears to be smoothed over.
Is this the real final resting place of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370? To read Wise’s case in all of its detail, click on this link, where readers can decide for themselves.
[Top Image: Google Earth via JeffWise.net, Interior Images: Digital Globe & Terraserver via JeffWise.net]