Re Missing Flight MH370: Smoke from North Sentinel Island

March 14th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Most days I check out the global MODIS imagery at the NASA Worldview website, and today I zoomed in on North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal. Looking through recent days, I noticed a plume of smoke starting on the afternoon of Saturday, March 8. Ever since then, there has been smoke evident on most of the days, through yesterday, and it seems to emanate from the north side of the island:

Smoke streaming southward from North Sentinel Island on 13 March, 2014.

Smoke streaming southward from North Sentinel Island on 13 March, 2014.

The MODIS spatial resolution (250 m) is nowhere near good enough to observe something as small as an airplane, but it routinely sees smoke plumes. Now, it might well be that the natives on this (very primitive and hostile) island have burnings during this time of year. There are thought to be less than 100 inhabitants of the island, and they do not like visitors.

But, I looked through all of the days in March of last year (2013), and saw no obvious evidence of smoke. Nor was there smoke earlier this month before the plane disappeared.

I believe this is one of the many islands that is being targeted for investigation.

Interestingly, the island was raised 1 to 2 meters after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, exposing many of the coral reefs surrounding the island.

I doubt that there is a connection to the missing flight, which would be a real shot in the dark. But it is a strange coincidence.

At a minimum, this is a plug for the NASA Worldview website, which I’ve been wanting to mention anyway.

69 Responses to “Re Missing Flight MH370: Smoke from North Sentinel Island”

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  1. Jim Thompson says:

    From Reuters about a hour ago (1541 EST):

    (In reference to North Sentinal Island)

    A fire spotted on an island inhabited by the Sentinelese tribe was unconnected to the missing flight, Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, Chief of Staff of the joint command, told Reuters

    “I can confirm we’ve been watching the smoke on the island by air and by boats along the coast for some time,” Pillai said.

    “But we believe it has nothing to do with the missing Malaysia Airlines plane,” he added, saying that it was possible that the fire was lit by the tribe, who are known to burn thick grassland.

    He added that he believed the smoke on North Sentinel island started before the aircraft disappeared seven days ago.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Thanks for the update, Jim!

      • Brent Daglish says:

        The tribe have no thick grassland! It is thick and ancient jungle. This may not be 370 but the fire covered a huge area and can be seen on Google Earth as the changes and the regrowth began. The natives did not start this fire. It was lightening or 370.

  2. Thanks, Dr. Spencer for the remainder about the NASA Worldview website.
    Thanks, Jim. Good reporting! I was already thinking “crash landing site”, or “smoke signal ransom message”.

  3. Rob W says:

    Wikipedia says they do not have fire there. The natives there are uncontacted people.

    • anonlawyer says:

      “…do not have fire there…”

      I did not see that in Wikipedia.

      I did find an eyewitness’s contribution on the Talk page who was there trying to help the stranded M.V. Primrose a few years ago. He says of the natives, “…they are ugly and hungry to fight…”(!!!).

    • Leo H. says:

      I have seen several websites which, in discussing these people, indicate that they do, in fact, have the use of fire, but it is uncertain whether or not they can make it on their own. The neighboring Jawawa people, only recently coming under the influence of civilization themselves, also were unaware of fire-making methods, and had to preserve naturally occuring fire, so the conjecture is that the North Sentinelese are at a similar level.

      It would seem certain, though, that they can use fire. Several early accounts from explorers in the 1700s refer to many lights coming from the island at night.

  4. Emily says:

    I had this same suspicion. I used NASA’s satellite weather map to trace fires on the North Sentinel Island. There are 3 fires that register on March 10. Toggle through the past and future dates. All other dates show black (no evidence of fire).


  5. Doug  Cotton   says:

    They now think the plane may have been flying for 5 hours after contact was obviously deliberately terminated. How does that gel with the distance to the island?

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      Doug…there is no way contact could have been deliberately terminated. There is nothing in an aircraft that can affect ground-based radar.

      The report is that the plane disappeared off the radar screen. No one in that aircraft could have caused that to happen. Unfortunately, the only explanation is an explosion that destroyed the plane.

      There is one unlikely situation, a cover up. Someone could have been asleep at the helm, on the radar screen, and failed to notice the plane descending..

      •  Doug  Cotton   says:

        You have been proved wrong, Gordon. The co-pilot killed the pilot as part of a terrorist plan that I suspect has been in place before 2007 and has the marks of Bin Laden all over it. This is his legacy and I think there will be more disappearing aircraft caused by suicide pilots recruited around 2007 and put through the normal training processes so they have inside access.

        The co-pilot killed the pilot (possibly poison) and turned off the communication systems and caused de-pressurisation in the passenger cabin. He tells them to wear oxygen masks so they have no time to make phone calls. They would sense him doing a U-turn, but he does not drop altitude for quite a while until they are all dead and are thus not answering incoming calls as was reported.

        Then he changes course a few times to confuse authorities whom he knows may be able to track with ground based radar, but he is also using up fuel so that there is just enough for the plane to fly on auto pilot (after he dies from lack of oxygen) to about the most remote and deepest part of the ocean, 2,500Km SW of Perth, Western Australia, just before the water starts to get less deep because of the Antarctic shelf.

        The “mystery” is designed to get long term media coverage, and cost a fortune in search efforts. Also, it will be obvious that a terrorist organisation is involved when a second and a third … plane disappears. This is such a brilliant plan that I’d bet it was Bin Laden’s.

  6. Doug  Cotton   says:

    If it had gone down in ocean waters it would have floated for a while and surely be visible from satellites. I strongly suspect it has hit land. If the suicidal pilot deliberately planned to conceal the wreckage (perhaps hoping friends and family members would never know he was to blame) then it’s fairly obvious that the best place to crash it would be into an existing fire on a remote island. Maybe the pilot was aware of this fire before the flight, or maybe the erratic route it seems to have taken (perhaps for 5 hours) was searching for such a fire. So just because some fire had started earlier doesn’t rule out this island, or maybe some other location with a fire. I’d say a land party to the island should be planned.

    • Martinitony says:

      Fewest assumptions:
      1. The plane was hijacked.
      2. It landed someplace.

      All other hypotheses involve several more assumptions.

      • Doug  Cotton   says:

        I think it very unlikely that it was hijacked by any passengers. Compare the 9/11 plane that was the last to go down – phone calls from passengers to loved ones – passengers acting. Does anyone know if there was mobile phone coverage around there?

        This plane had just reached cruising altitude which is where pilots take a break. So the suicidal one may have been alone for enough time to turn off communications. Maybe he shot the other dead when he returned to the cabin. He continues perhaps telling the passengers they will be arriving at their destination soon. No one in the cabin has any idea it’s off course or anything is wrong.

        By crashing it into an existing fire the pilot thinks no one will ever know which pilot did it. I rather doubt that both would have planned it. Perhaps they should check if the pilot may have seen the fire on a previous flight, as it could have been his plan for a long time, just waiting for the opportunity. Because we know the plane avoided radar, we can assume that the plan was to prevent the wreckage being found, at least for perhaps a few weeks when it would have been significantly destroyed in the fire. Obviously the smoke prevents sightings from the air.

        Landing in an existing fire would prevent extra loss of life on the ground and minimise the chance of people reporting sightings, especially the people on such a remote island. If it really landed safely anywhere on a sufficiently large air strip, I rather doubt that it would not have been found and no passenger would have made contact with the outside world somehow.

        Of course the Malaysians should try to search the island, but they are too confident in their assumption that it can’t be there because the fire started sooner.

      • Santa Baby says:

        There is one more. Maybe they made a BIG mistake when punching in the route for the flight and noticed to late enroute?
        Some of those Asian countries have a problem with not accepting human mistakes and to loose face. If that happened with the consequence that they ended way off and not having enough fuel to reach the planned destination, and had to land somewhere else, they would probably both realise that they would loose their jobs after landing?
        So if they did not want to loose their jobs and their faces, what could they do?

        • Santa Baby says:

          “The plane was hijacked.”

          Possible, but strangly no demands or political propaganda so far. So if there never is then it must have gone bad and become a disaster?
          So far if it’s a hijacking, it is or have become pointless? If so it could have been an operation by isolated very few or cell?

          Criminal motivated? Do any of the passengers on board fit in, economic or political powerful etc.?

          I think for every day we find no trace of the plane it’s because it became a sudden disaster or it flew where it was less likely to be found?

  7. Nice find. On the off chance the plane somehow ditched on or near this Island and there were any survivors, let’s hope the smoke isn’t a giant barbecue celebration by the local, hostile natives.

    Perhaps this one will be referred to as the Malaysian Experiment when it’s all said and done. Think of all the articles, books and movies. The revenue streams will be like low-hanging fruit. Everybody loves a good mystery; well, most everyone.

  8. Hey D o u g, I’m betting gravity played a part in the plane’s disappearance. What’s your theory?

    Wait, hold the phones…this just in. As we speak, they’re tweaking the climate models and it’s been determined that this missing plane is the result of AGW and GHG. Ice core samples reveal that when CO2 exceeds 400 PPM air travel becomes much more tenuous. Those extra CO2 molecules may seem immaterial, but they are the straw that breaks Boyle’s back.

  9. Threepwood says:

    what a fascinating place, thanks for pointing this out- it appears that the smoke is coming from the center of the north shore, where (on Google Earth) there looks to be a natural harbor/ most likely place for a settlement? The only sign of life I see on the whole island is near the small headland to the right of this harbor- there seems to be a footpath here linking the beach strips together?

  10. B V RAO says:

    If that’s the case , why don’t the Malaysian Govt request the Indian Govt to send their Navy 2 this island , make a thorough search of the island and clear all doubts ?

  11. John Owens says:

    This was a well planned and well executed act of piracy. If it were a suicidal pilot, there would have been no reason to carefully avoid ground radar and to lead the public away from the planes final destination. There are two major parties that are suspects. The Somalia pirates haven’t been doing too well these days and they could have decided to try aircraft piracy. The other possibility, note the stolen passports were being used by Iranians, is the very large cargo of lithium batteries that would be very useful to the Iranian defense industries. The location of the aircraft is being kept secret. That would be necessary to enable the shipment of the batteries to Iran. It probably was intended that the aircraft simply disappear.

    • Doug  Cotton   says:

      There could have been a reason. Maybe a suicidal pilot wanted to ensure his family were looked after with insurance money, or he just didn’t want the world to be certain who did it.

      It could have been either pilot. We don’t know if the one who was last known to be flying it perhaps went for a bathroom break as the other took over and perhaps killed the first when he returned. I can’t imagine any other scenario where a pilot would be temporarily by himself without the passengers suspecting anything was wrong.

      The plane was last tracked in Malacca Strait which is en route to North Sentinel Island.

    • Santa Baby says:

      Large cargo of “lithium batteries” ?
      If that starts to burn they are toast?

  12. Gordon Robertson says:

    There has been some confusion in the reporting of this incident with respect to radar and it’s capabilities. Radar is being confused with the beacon transmitted by aircraft to identify the blip on a radar screen. The blip and the beacon are two separate things. Turning of the beacon would have no effect on the radar screen blip of the plane.

    In a radar system, a high frequency wave is transmitted by a rotating sail (antenna). Anything the wave strikes is reflected by objects capable of reflecting EM. Stealth aircraft are designed with edges that divert the signal rather than reflect it.

    The returning signal is picked up by a horn and transmitted to an amplifier using a waveguide. After processing, it shows up as a blip on a radar screen. There is no way turning of a beacon in an aircraft could cause the plane to disappear from a radar screen.

    If an aircraft suddenly disappears from a properly functioning radar system screen it can only mean one thing, that it has exploded. If the aircraft had lost power and was in a dive, it would still show up on radar as it descended. Same thing with a hijacking. They would try to take the plane lower to avoid radar but the plane would have been seen descending.

    There is another possibility. The radar operator could have been AWOL for some reason and had not noticed the plane descending. In North America, that is unlikely to happen since there are many screens monitoring the flights and many air controllers. The tower at most airports is for ground traffic only, the main controlling being done in another facility.

    In that part of the world, a controller having missed a plane descending could have tried to cover his gaffe by claiming it just disappeared. I think that is a highly unlikely explanation.

    • Doug  Cotton   says:

      It seems strange that they say the last sighting was in Malacca Strait, and yet they now say it was flying for seven hours. If they know that, how come they don’t know where it was after those seven hours?

      Well I think one pilot probably poisoned the other, as that would be a silent operation not disturbing the passengers.

      • Peter Chapman says:

        It’s really simple. Air Traffic control rely on type 2 radar. This requires the transponder to be switched on. This type of radar enables the controllers to identify the plane.

        The transponder was switched off about 40 minutes after take off – over the gulf of Thailand. So air traffic control lost contact at that point.

        Type 1 radar, as used by military, can detect any aircraft, provided it is in range. But type 1 cannot identify the aircraft. The Malaysian Air Force radar tracked the plane from the point it changed course (after the transponder was switched off). The plane climbed to 45000 feet and flew back across the Malaysian peninsular – along the border with Thailand. It then dropped to 23000 feet near Penang. It then changed course and flew north west towards the Andaman islands.

        The Malaysian Air Force radar has a limited range so would have lost contact with the plane when the plane was about 150 to 200 miles off shore – well before it reached the Andaman Islands.

        If you look at a map of the Bay of Bengal you will notice that it is huge. An in range ship or another plane equipped with radar would have been able to detect the Malaysian plane and radar along the coast of various Asian countries would have been able to detect it if it had flown over land. However these radar operators would not have been looking for it. That is why Malaysia has now asked a lot of countries to take a look at their radar recordings. But the radar (because it is type 1) would not have been able to identify the plane as being the Malaysian plane. If you take a look at FlightRadar for the area you will notice an awful lot of planes in the sky at any one time. So working out which one is the Malaysian plane will be a challenge.

        The seven hours is based on satellites picking up pings from the plane. Nothing to do with Radar

        Given the detailed planning up until the plane reached Penang we can assume that the rest of the flight was also planned in detail. I would guess that the plane flew over relatively underpopulated areas (eg the Himalayas) and is now in Tibet or Mongolia.

        • Doug  Cotton   says:

          But why wouldn’t some passenger have succeeded in making some phone call or SMS somehow in all that time?

          • Peter Chapman says:

            Well, I can’t get a signal at my local pub. Perhaps there is no signal in the Bay of Bengal or over the Himalayas. Or maybe violence was threatened and all the passengers gave up their phones. according to reports from the middle of last week relations were phoning the passengers and the phones were ringing. I don’t know enough about mobile phones to comment.

          • Doug  Cotton   says:

            But there would have been a signal when it was over Penang, so it seems no one suspected any foul play at that point. How many would it take to simultaneously confiscate all phones? You’d think someone would get an SMS out. Either there was quite a team of hijackers on board including a proficient pilot, or it’s a one-man suicide. I’d guess that he circled around near North Sentinel Island, perhaps not able to pluck up the courage until fuel was nearly out. Oh well. it’s been a geography lesson.

        • Doug  Cotton   says:

          Do you know how long the original flight was supposed to take? It must have been a longish flight or there would not have been as much fuel on board. I can imagine the pilot keeping passengers calm for seven hours, blaming bad weather delaying landing, but not for seven days.

          • Peter Chapman says:

            The original flight was to Beijing. According to Google Maps that is a 6 hour flight.

            I would think that after 7 days the passengers would have worked out something wasn’t right.

        • Doug  Cotton   says:

          ” It then dropped to 23000 feet near Penang. It then changed course and flew north west towards the Andaman islands. “

          … which takes it to North Sentinel Island in South Andaman. It’s just about the only suitable isolated island as the main Andaman Islands are obviously well populated. In contrast, there’s not a single road on North Sentinel.

          Maybe it circled for a while, in keeping with the pilot blaming bad weather, perhaps waiting for the right moment when the fire was well alight.

          Anyway, many passengers would be starving to death by now.

        • Gordon Robertson says:

          “Air Traffic control rely on type 2 radar. This requires the transponder to be switched on”.

          Peter…radar is radar. They all work by sending a signal out by a radar sail, a rotating antenna. The signal spreads in a cone out over the horizon. If any object that is capable of reflecting EM intercepts the cone, it reflects a signal back. That signal is detected and amplified, showing up on the radar screen as a moving blip.

          The blips would be confusing if they had no identifying data alongside them. The aircraft sends out a beacon with it’s identification and that is received by the radar station by whatever means, processed, and attached to the blip.

          If the transponder is turned off, the blip will still be there but it will no longer have identification.

          • Peter Chapman says:


            I think you are more-or-less agreeing with me. I refer to type 1 and type 2 Although my source (wikipedia) actually refers to primary and secondary. Here is the passage I read before posting.

            Primary radar[edit]

            The rapid wartime development of radar had obvious applications for air traffic control (ATC) as a means of providing continuous surveillance of air traffic disposition. Precise knowledge of the positions of aircraft would permit a reduction in the normal procedural separation standards, which in turn promised considerable increases in the efficiency of the airways system. This type of radar (now called a primary radar) can detect and report the position of anything that reflects its transmitted radio signals including, depending on its design, aircraft, birds, weather and land features. For air traffic control purposes this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Its targets do not have to co-operate, they only have to be within its coverage and be able to reflect radio waves, but it only indicates the position of the targets, it does not identify them. When primary radar was the only type of radar available, the correlation of individual radar returns with specific aircraft typically was achieved by the controller observing a directed turn by the aircraft. Primary radar is still used by ATC today as a backup/complementary system to secondary radar, although its coverage and information is more limited.[2][3][4]

            Secondary radar[edit]
            Installation of mode S antenna on top of existing primary antenna.
            The need to be able to identify aircraft more easily and reliably led to another wartime radar development, the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, which had been created as a means of positively identifying friendly aircraft from enemy. This system, which became known in civil use as secondary surveillance radar (SSR) or in the USA as the air traffic control radar beacon system (ATCRBS), relies on a piece of equipment aboard the aircraft known as a “transponder.” The transponder is a radio receiver and transmitter which receives on one frequency (1030 MHz) and transmits on another (1090 MHz). The target aircraft’s transponder replies to signals from an interrogator (usually, but not necessarily, a ground station co-located with a primary radar) by transmitting a coded reply signal containing the requested information.[5]


            According to reports that I have read MH370 switched off its transponder after 40 minutes or so, so Malaysian ATC (MATC)could no longer identify it (or see it with secondary radar) because secondary radar would’t work with the transponder switched off. The impression that I have formed by reading the news reports is that MH370 disappeared from radar because the transponder was switched off. It was also at the point that MATC handed over to VNATC so perhaps it was out of range (about 250 miles) of primary radar for both countries.

            Does the Malaysian ATC also use primary radar? I don’t know. If it does use primary radar, did it see MH370 after it had changed course without realizing it was MH370? Again, I don’t know.

          • Doug Lampert says:

            Primary RADAR as you’re calling it (basically a skin paint off the aircraft) returns are on an inverse fourth power law.

            i.e. at 250 miles you need over 6,000,000 times the power as you need at 5 miles. Most airfields only maintain really tight control and monitoring out to 5 miles or so.

            We can be confident that their primary radar (if any) is good to five miles. Is it 6,000,000 times that capable? I doubt it.

            All the discussion of tracks after the transponder was turned off is of military radar systems. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

  13. Luvstonz says:

    What about the engineering staff of MAS who was traveling on the flight to Begin his posting in Beijing? Could he have been involved too?

  14. Threepwood says:

    Why do planes not deploy a floating, signaling beacon on impact with a black box included- some system like this with no ‘off’ switch would seem sensible?

  15. Ossqss says:

    Thanks Doc!

    Facinating all the way around.

  16. Doug  Cotton   says:

    It has to be one or both of the pilots, because, after one of the communications systems was switched off, these was further voice communication giving no indication of any problem. I very much doubt that both pilots would have wanted to commit suicide, or that they would both be in on a conspiracy that would need many more operators to control the passengers and crew members.

    No, I still reckon one poisoned the other and crashed into a fire so bodies would be well burnt and no one could detect poison days later. He was fairly old anyway, and maybe knew of some terminal disease, but dreamt up a plan to get insurance money for his family.

  17. Dr. Strangelove says:

    The most logical hypothesis is the plane crashed in the sea. If it crashed on land, wreckage can be seen. If landed safely somewhere, over 200 passengers would have cell phones to communicate. If landed on remote island, we will see the plane. It’s a big plane.

  18. Lewis says:

    Yes, wreckage can be seen, but one actually must know where to look. In this case no evidence is being given about where the plane actually went down. Whether it crashed on land or sea or landed at some remote area. Certainly it is not in the air anymore.

    So, considering what we know, or to misquote Sherlock, when all possible answers have been eliminated, what is left: Aliens. Please see Independence Day – the movie and pay close attention. The aliens are real.

  19. brad says:

    So weird. I typed in mh370 into my android google maps app and it takes you straight to north sentinel island. So strange

  20. Bruiser says:

    Not related to this story but the AWS at Dome A in Antarctica recorded a temp of -92C on 11 Mar 14. We could be in for another record year of Antarctic Sea Ice.

    Cheers, Bruiser

  21. Lynn Clark says:

    Someone named Keith Ledgerwood came up with a totally plausible scenario that explains much of the mystery, including how whoever was flying the missing aircraft was able to avoid detection by ground-based radar:

    My comment: The senior pilot had built a somewhat sophisticated flight simulator at his home. This is not unusual. There are probably thousands of flight nerds around the world who have built similar systems themselves. With any modern flight simulator software (Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, or Flightgear), anyone can simulate flying any route worldwide. My brother spends hours “flying” heavy commercial aircraft like Boeing 777s on worldwide routes using X-Plane, quite often on auto-pilot with long over-water portions of the routes flown while he’s at work or asleep. It wouldn’t be difficult at all for a commercial airline pilot with 18,000 hours of flying experience to simulate the scenario outlined in Keith Ledgerwood’s post above. Flying in close proximity with another similar aircraft as Keith describes would result in a single blip, or perhaps a slightly doubled, or blurry-edged blip, on a radar screen, something that most air traffic controllers would take no special notice of, attributing it to some anomalous atmospheric condition or something.

    So, I’m going with Keith’s scenario for how the aircraft disappeared. I’ll further speculate that it was diverted by the senior pilot, or the two Iranian passengers traveling on stolen passports, probably with much pre-planning with some Islamic terror group, and is now on the ground in Iran being loaded up with explosives or a dirty nuke to be flown into Jerusalem. What has happened to the passengers and crew — or what will happen to them — is unknowable, but probably not good.

  22.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    Yes, I’ll buy Keith’s analysis – flying over India in the radar “shadow” of another identical plane so radar operators don’t see it. Very, very plausible seeing that it intercepted the other flight perfectly. I’d say it would need more than the two pilots to control the crew and passengers, so perhaps at least one of those with false passports was an accomplice, if not both. So, perhaps it’s landed after all. I hope they’re feeding the passengers in exchange for their mobile phones which kept ringing I understand.

    • Lynn Clark says:

      A cell phone doesn’t have to be on or within range of a cell tower to “ring”. The ring is generated by the cell network whether the cell phone is on or off or within range of a cell tower or not. Typically, if it is not “callable” it will “ring” at least a couple times while the cell network attempts to contact it, then go to voice mail.

      I don’t think more than one pilot is necessary. With the reinforced cockpit door, all the pilot had to do was disable/kill the co-pilot (or vice versa, but I suspect the senior pilot was more capable of coming up with this scenario) and he could do whatever he had to do without any worry about the crew or passengers. In addition, as many pundits have stated, depressurizing the aircraft for approximately 30 minutes at any altitude above about 30,000 feet (Mount Everest at ~29,000 feet elevation has been successfully climbed without oxygen) while the pilot was on emergency oxygen in the cockpit and after the emergency passenger oxygen system was turned off would be more than sufficient to kill or permanently disable all the passengers. The standard operating procedure in a case of cabin depressurization would be to immediately descend to a lower altitude where supplemental oxygen wouldn’t be required. In normal circumstances that would take 10-15 minutes or less. The pilots and crew have portable oxygen systems that presumably last a little while longer than that — long enough to descend to a safe altitude. IAC, with one of the pilots disabled, the remaining pilot would have the disabled pilot’s oxygen at his disposal.

      If any of the passengers are still alive, I would guess that all the non-Muslim passengers will be re-boarded on the aircraft, assuming they were ever taken off of it, after it’s been packed with high-explosives or a (dirty) nuke for a one-way trip to Tel Aviv, all the while being filmed for maximum impact to the rest of the world. Previously I thought Jerusalem, but there are things there like the Dome of the Rock that even Muslims wouldn’t want to destroy.

      • Lynn Clark says:

        BTW, minutes ago Fox News reported the timeline of the last contact from MH 370. Two minutes after the co-pilot said, “Good night”, the transponder was turned off. So that’s about how long it took for the pilot to kill/disable him, regain his composure, then turn the transponder off. IMO…

        • Lynn Clark says:

          BTW2, the New York Times reported yesterday that the auto-pilot was reprogrammed to make the U-turn back toward Malaysia (how they know that isn’t clear to me, but we’ll assume the report is accurate) soon after the “Good night” call from the co-pilot. So, the pilot simulated this entire scenario many times on his home-built flight simulator. After he disabled/killed the co-pilot and turned off the transponder, he reprogrammed the auto-pilot to fly his pre-planned route that would intercept the SIA68 777 flight path. That would then enable him to climb down into the engineering bay below the cockpit and turn off the ACARS system (the system that sends aircraft performance data to home base every 30 minutes), and probably turn off the passenger emergency oxygen system. The rest was easy. Just sit back and monitor progress, all the while listening to SIA68 talk to ATC. The last ACARS transmission from MH 370 was at 1:07 am. The next data transmission at 1:37 am didn’t occur. The ACARS data packet doesn’t include any information about location. The satellite “pings” that have been discussed also don’t include any location information. Furthermore, those “pings” are only for engine performance data that is optionally sent to the engine manufacturer. It’s been reported that Malaysian Airlines didn’t subscribe to that program, so the pings that were generated by the aircraft weren’t actually “slurped up” by the system that collects them. They were just pings that were “heard” by the system.

          So far I haven’t seen/heard any aviation “experts” on any news outlets discuss a scenario like Keith Ledgerwood outlined. I think this is a case of “the terrorists” thinking outside the box, just like they did on 9-11. On September 10, 2001, nobody except them ever thought that anyone would hijack four airliners with intent to fly them into buildings. I think that the Israelis are the only ones are are thinking the way Keith is thinking. It’s been reported that they’re on high alert, watching for a low-flying heavy aircraft approaching their airspace. I’ll bet their AWACs planes are painting all the surrounding airspace 24/7.

  23. Tim says:

    Looks like the is a fire in the uninhabited north west corner of little Andaman Island to the south east of SSI. visable on the weather map for the 17th.

  24. Good eye! Someone pointed us to N. Sentinel Island too, and we’ve drawn up some more detailed analysis with Landsat imagery. Also, thanks to folks at the U. of Washington, we’ve eliminated the possibility that the fires were started by lightning. Even if not MH370, it seems something is amiss on the island.

    I’ve posted the imagery on our blog –

  25. pleaseanon says:

    It could provide a motive. From looking at the concerns of one of the parties it seeems he was very much against existing religious restrictions upon sexuality, especially homosexuality, which he may have felt to be terribly, terribly unfair. The inhabitants of NSI are described as being unashamed of public sex: Eden. And also unable to contact the outside world. They do also kill outsiders but perhaps this could be in large part protest and or fantasy, perhaps my own.

  26. andy says:

    I just read this about the tribe living there:

    They use and cherish fire, but it is believed they don’t know how to make it.

  27.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    As you’ve probably heard, a piece of debris 14m long has been photographed by satellite in a location about 2,500Km South West of Perth, Western Australia. Apparently aircraft have detected strong radar signals in the area, and Australian ships are nearly there, but darkness has now led to ending the search until morning.

  28.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    Apparently there are two pieces of debris, 5m and 24m long. The fact that there are two relatively close together indicates a recent event, for otherwise currents would separate them much more. No one seems to have any explanation regarding any other such event in the area recently.

    Australian aircraft left from Perth about an hour ago, but the flight takes 4 hours and weather conditions are not good. Hopefully they might pick up more radar signals.

    We need to call a spade a spade. If this is where the plane is then it is an act of terrorism. All along there have been attempts to hide the whereabouts. Perhaps it got in the radar shadow of that plane just to throw us off, or maybe it used other planes too. Maybe it circled around to use up the right amount of fuel so as to plunge into such a deep and remote part of the ocean in the hope it would never be found or the black box retrieved. Quite possibly the pilot(s) also ran out of oxygen before the crash, so they set it on that path and knew where it would come down.

  29.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    Could there be more such planned events in the near future? Think back to 9/11. Could there be several pilots either conscripted into terrorism, or trained as pilots like those in 9/11? Could it have been the co-pilot? I’m not so sure that the flight simulation would have been essential, but it will be interesting if they recover relevant data from the deleted stuff on the pilots simulator. In any event, the co-pilot could have had access to a simulator in some terrorist organisation. But can you imagine the impact by the time three or four planes vanish in similar circumstances? Who’d want to fly?

  30.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    The co-pilot joined Malaysian Airlines in 2007 and was trained by them. It’s feasible (following 9/11) that this is the start of the next major terrorist plot.

    Surely a young guy in his 20’s wasn’t just committing suicide with such an elaborate plan. How many others have they been training to get to this point after seven years or so? Why would one isolated guy do this on his own?

    I put the blame on the co-pilot as it is thought he spoke the last message, and the much older pilot had had considerable experience over most of his life.

    It started at about the time (at cruising altitude) when pilots have a coffee break. So all the co-pilot had to do was poison a cup of coffee he gave to the pilot, who was probably dead before the co-pilot spoke the last message and forgot to give the usual information with it.

    Yes, then he causes the passengers to die through lack of oxygen, and when they are dead he drops altitude significantly to make it easier to survive himself, using his and the pilot’s oxygen. But he doesn’t want the plane to reach Antarctica where it would be easily found, so he circles erratically using up the right amount of fuel, and also makes it obvious the plane is off route. He tries to confuse everyone as to which direction he’s heading, but he knows the Indian Ocean is the only real option, and 2,500Km west-south-west of Perth in water thousands of metres deep is an appropriate choice. .

  31.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    The wing span of a 777 is 60.9 metres, so I guess 24m is about the length of one wing which would float, being empty of fuel. That’s the length of one of the two pieces of debris.

  32.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    If you look at the Google Earth satellite views you will see that there is plenty of very deep water about 2,500Km between SW and WSW of Perth – about the same distance as Sydney is from Perth. Just below that is a lighter area of far more shallow water, so it seems he picked well, probably just using this satellite view. That’s why he had to use up some fuel before setting it on auto pilot for that region.

  33.  Doug  Cotton   says:

    Breaking News:

    Chinese aircraft detected a number of “suspicious white floating objects” in the Southern Indian Ocean today, Monday.

  34. Max Walker says:

    Not sure if this is still active, but it is known that this tribe does not possess the knowledge to create their own fires, and rather harness it from lightning strikes. Seeing as there were no storms around the date of disappearance of the flight, surely this is seen as an increasingly plausible location for the crash landing?

  35. Doug Cotton says:

    Anyone for ping pong? Ping you find it; pong you smell a rat.

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