Somewhere in the vast expanse of Earth’s oceans lies MH370, the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board.
Authorities closed the books on the search in 2017, but all over the world people are continuing the hunt. And one day the plane will be found.
So says the Australian who was in charge of the amateur search, because people won’t give up looking for it.
Peter Foley was the program director for the international effort led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Hundreds of people helped search more than 120,000 square kilometres of the southern Indian Ocean seafloor. They mapped the area, tried to trace debris back to its origin, and prepared for a recovery mission, before the search was suspended at the start of 2017.
In its closing report, the ATSB explained its scientific processes and professed very human emotions while talking directly to the families of the disappeared.
Foley focuses on that empathy and regret, and says MH370 will be found, and it will be found near the area they were looking in.
“It’s one of those things that will enthral people until the mystery is solved,” he says. “It is a mystery that must be solved and will be solved eventually.”
MH370 disappeared from air traffic control radar 38 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. Analysis of satellite and radar data showed it had kept flying for another seven hours.
Conspiracy theories about what happened abound. On social media people speculate about the involvement of organ harvesters and black holes, aliens and North Korea. Other theories, including that it was a murder/suicide plot by the pilot, or that the pilot was unconscious, have been taken more seriously – although never confirmed.
In January 2018 the Malaysian government contracted marine robotics company Ocean Infinity to send in autonomous underwater vehicles in a “no-find, no-fee” deal. By May they had given up – for now.
There are still dedicated searchers, ranging from conspiracy theorists to well-intentioned amateurs and full-blown experts.
They include those who work with new data models and are driven to solve the MH370 mystery for glory, or money, or knowledge, or to give the loved ones left behind some answers.
Dr Ian MacLeod, an expert in shipwrecks, a diver of the deep, and a lover of ocean mysteries, also says it’s a matter of when, not if, it will be found.
A world-famous authority on maritime corrosion and conservation and a WA Museum fellow, Macleod said“people will not give up until the last breath has gone out of their body. People will find it. New information will come to light, governments will change, and they’ll go back and find it.”
The Malaysian government said in 2018 that it wasn’t ruling out future missions, and the family members of those lost are urging them on. Ocean Infinity has said it is open to a new search.
Photo – A file picture shows a woman writing messages for the passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on a banner during a remembrance ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. EPA/FAZRY ISMAIL