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Just Plane Gone
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I'm too young to have experienced the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. I know what happened. She went on a top-secret mission and was never heard from again. And now, in our check-in-at-FourSquare, security camera, NSA-Big-Brother-is-watching-you world, a commercial airliner that has a nearly 200 foot wingspan and is 200 feet long is missing. MISSING. M-I-S-S-I-N-G.
I've been fascinated by this since day one. I've always been obsessed with planes and flying. I went through a period in seventh grade when I had dreams about planes crashing. From then on, I've had dreams about planes crashing. One particular dream was of a Boeing 727 (or it might have been a DC-9) that crashed in a wooded area. I didn't recognize the name of the airliner. A week later, an Avianca Airlines plane (it was a 707) crashed in a wooded area.
Maybe my obsession sparked from the crash of a DC-10 in Chicago in 1979. It was American Airlines Flight 191. While taking off, an engine fell off. Someone snapped a picture of the impending disaster—the plane was vertical, smoke trailing from the left wing. It might not have had such an effect on me, but in less than a month, I would accompany my mother and father on a trip to Puerto Rico, to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. My mother wasn't fond of flying—she got airsick, but I wondered what she thought of a huge plane crashing just weeks before we would board an Eastern Airlines L-1011. We had fun once we got there, but I remember our route—Fort Wayne to Atlanta, Atlanta to San Juan. The flight from Atlanta to San Juan was sweaty. No air conditioning, and my father had insisted we dress up (back in those days, that's what you did) and there we were. Our seats were in the middle part of the plane, which meant we couldn't look out the window. Dad was mopping his brow, mom was barfing, and I was reading a comic book, wishing we were THERE already. On that trip, one take-off was rather steep. I never asked what my parents thought about that, but I'm sure everyone's hearts on that flight beat quite a bit faster. I can't remember if it was on that flight, or if it was on the first time I ever rode on a plane, but when the flaps were lowered (or retracted) I made the comment, “there go the wings.” My dad loved telling this story, because according to him, our seat mate's eyes about popped out of his head.
But back to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Theories abound as to what happened to it. I get a kick out of reading the comments, from concerned citizens to pilots to conspiracy theorists as to what might have happened. It's not the first plane that's completely disappeared. Earhart's plane hasn't shown up, and in 1979, a Boeing 707 disappeared into the Pacific. It was only 200 kilometers (124 miles for you Americans) ENE of Tokyo when radio contact was lost. And they NEVER found it. There were 153 paintings on board worth $1.24 million, but nothing from the plane was found. Painter Manabu Mabe (who got his start hand-painting ties on the streets of Sao Paulo) was probably incredibly pissed that 153 of his works were GONE, but at least he was still around to make more of them.
It's incredible to think that in this day and age, a plane could completely disappear. But the world is a big place, and despite all the surveillance we are used to having, despite GPS, despite technology, people and planes can be lost.
Everyone has an opinion on what happened. It's an amazing whodunit, except there are 239 people who are probably gone forever. It's too much to hope that the plane was hijacked and is somewhere in Asia (where I think it is) and the passengers are still alive. Whoever did this, did a hell of a job. No distress calls, no cell phone calls to loved ones, no text messages. The quiet disappearance of this plane is fascinating and horrifying at the same time. It's a big plane, but a much bigger world. The amount of search personnel involved, and the equipment they're using is astonishing. It's an Amelia Earhart experience for our time.
But I'm an innocent bystander. No one I knew or loved was on that plane. I'm as obsessed about finding out what happened to the plane as the ones left behind. I hope they find closure.