Mysterious Aircraft Disappearances: Can you solve these cases?

Last month, the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air traffic control after less than an hour in the air. No flight debris was ever found.

What happened to Flight 370? Speculations flooded the Internet for weeks after the disappearance.

This isn’t the first aircraft to vanish from the skies. Many more reported incidences of missing aircrafts have stumped even the most diligent investigator.

Up for the challenge? We all love a good mystery, and these unsolved cases don’t disappoint.

Case of Valentich and his UFO: Disoriented or attacked?

Case summary

Frederick Valentich, an Australian pilot, was flying a Cessna 182 light aircraft over the Bass Strait near Cape Otway in 1978, on a routine training flight, when he spotted an unknown aircraft following him. The pilot reported engine difficulties and was never heard from again.

Investigation notes

19:06 EST – Valentich radioed Melbourne air traffic control that an unidentified aircraft was following him at his altitude. Radio operators told Valentich that there was no known traffic at that level.

Valentich described the aircraft as being large and illuminated with four landing lights. He was unable to identify the unknown aircraft and said it had passed about 1,000 feet overhead and was moving at extremely high speeds.

Valentich then reported that the aircraft was quickly approaching him from the east. He speculated that the pilot was toying with him.

19:09 EST – Radio control asked Valentich to confirm his altitude and stated that they were unable to identify the aircraft. Valentich confirmed his height.

Radio control requested an estimate of the size of the unidentified aircraft. After 28 seconds of silence, Valentich reported that the aircraft had vanished. After about 25 seconds, he reported seeing the aircraft again and said it was quickly approaching from the southwest.

19:12 EST – Valentich reported having engine problems. There was a brief silence followed by his last words – “it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.” His transmission was interrupted by scraping, metallic sounds and Valentich uttered no further words ever again.

Case of the Flying Tiger: Sabotage or kidnapping?

Case summary

Flying Tiger Flight 739, a U.S.-chartered military flight from California to Vietnam, disappeared over the Western Pacific Ocean in 1962. The plane was carrying 107 passengers, including 93 U.S. soldiers.

The plane had some minor maintenance performed on engines one and three at its scheduled refueling stops in Honolulu and Wake Island Airfield.

The flight refueled at its scheduled stopover in Guam (a small island that is part of the U.S.), but never made it to its last stopover at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

Dozens of planes and several ships scoured the Western Pacific Ocean for wreckage. The search was the largest at that time, and was called off after eight days. Investigators suspect that the plane may have exploded mid-air.

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Another military plane left California around the same time as Flight 739 and also crashed. It was carrying top-secret military cargo.

Investigation notes

11:14 GMT – Flight 739 arrived at Guam after being delayed for minor maintenance on engines number one and three.

12:57 GMT – Flight 739 departed Guam with an estimated time of arrival in the Philippines at 19:16 GMT.

14:22 GMT – The pilot radioed a routine message and gave his position’s coordinates 280 miles west of Guam. No distress calls were made to radio operators.

15:39 GMT – The Guam radio operator attempted to contact the flight for a position report but was unable to establish contact. The plane was not seen or heard from again.

17:09 GMT – A Liberian tanker reported seeing a bright light in the sky close to where the airplane was expected to be.

Case of the Disappearing Douglas: No trace, no idea

Case summary

In 1951, Canadian Pacific Air Lines Douglas DC-4 flew from Vancouver, Canada and neglected to show up at its scheduled stopover in Anchorage, Alaska.

All 37 passengers were declared missing and no wreckage was ever found.

There was no probable cause and no idea or speculation as to what might have happened.

Investigation notes

18:35 PST – DC-4 left Vancouver destined for Tokyo, Japan with a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska.

20:05 PST – DC-4 was on schedule at the Cape Spencer intersection in British Columbia with an estimated time of arrival to Anchorage at 24:00. Heavy rain and ice was reported with limited visibility.

00:44 – PST – An emergency warning was issued when the aircraft failed to report to radio control. No trace of the aircraft was ever recovered.

Photo Source: Flickr, Flickr (view from airplane)

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