With the recent disappearances of the Malaysian flight MH370 and EgyptAir flight MS804, I’m sure you, as I, have started to wonder what makes these aircrafts vanish into thin air. With a little time and research, I’ve found that there are several other aviation mysteries that are as strange and mysterious as the next. This has led me to create a list of ten and cover some of the bizarre moments of aviation history. Some of them are more unsettling than we’d like it to be.
Top 10 Unsettling Aviation Mysteries
1979 Boeing 707-323C Disappearance
On January 30th 1979, a Boeing 707-323C went missing over the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes after take-off from Tokyo. The aircraft was operating on a flight from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro – Galeão international airport and was transporting a six person crew with 1.4 million USD worth of paintings. No traces of the aircraft, crew, or paintings have been found to this day.
Crash of Helios Airways flight 522
Human error is thought to have caused the crash of Helios Airways Flight 522. The plane flew on cruise control for two hours before plummeting to the ground and crashing in Greece. A Greek fighter jet was scrambled about 30 minutes before the flight began descending, but it was too late. The 121 passengers on board the plane lost consciousness due to a lack of oxygen and cabin pressure. It is referred to as the haunted aircraft.
Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
On March 16, 1962, a Flying Tiger Line Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation carrying 93 US soldiers and three South Vietnamese from Travis Air Force Base vanished and was never seen again. The pilot radioed a routine transmission report eighty minutes after the plane took off. Another was scheduled for an hour later, but the transmission never arrived. An explosion has been reported by eyewitnesses. Despite an eight-day search of 200,000 square miles, no debris was discovered. It prompted one of the largest air and sea searches in Pacific history.
1956 B-47 Disappearance
A B-47 heavy bomber was one of the four scheduled flights for deployment to an overseas airbase. The aircraft carrying two nuclear capsules disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea in 1956. An extensive search was carried out, but their efforts were in vain. Even to this day, the plane, the crew nor the two nuclear capsules have been recovered.
Boeing 727-223 Disappearance
A Boeing 727-223 landed on a runway without permission and took off southwest with its lights turned off. It was flying over the Atlantic Ocean. When the plane took off, a mechanic and a flight engineer were on board making repairs. The plane and the men were never found. Some theories contend that someone was waiting inside the plane, while others contend that something happened to cause one of the men to take the desperate risk.
TWA Flight 800
TWA's 800, a Boeing 747, took off from JFK on its way to Paris. The aircraft exploded without warning just as it received clearance to climb altitude. Thousands of pounds of kerosene were ignited in mid-air, along with 230 people on board. The oddest aspect was the lack of evidence of a criminal act discovered. Who shot down the plane? It is still a mystery.
Mystery of STENDEC
In 1947, a British airliner vanished with 11 people on board with no trace. To make matters stranger, a final transmission was sent from the aircraft before it went off radar. It was a mysterious Morse code message which was concluded with the phrase “STENDEC”. Although wreckage of the aircraft was found 50 years later, the message has yet to be solved.
The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart's disappearance remains one of the most famous aviation mysteries to this day. She was one of America's favourite pilots, and she received accolades from all over the world. The Lockheed Electra vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, carrying Amelia and her navigator Noonan. Following her disappearance, the United States Navy and Coast Guard launched one of the largest air and sea searches in US history. However, their efforts were futile, and they returned empty-handed, with no leads as to where the aircraft had vanished.
DB Cooper – Aviation Mysteries
In 1971, a man known only as “DB Cooper” managed to hijack a Boeing and leap out of it with a staggering $200,000 of banknotes with a parachute on his back. No traces have been found, but FBI investigators have claimed that “Cooper” could not have survived the jump. Certain theories suggest that the man was a grocery store manager before the hijacking.
The Disappearance of the Panair Do Brasil
The disappearance of the Panair Do Brasil in 1946 was one of the greatest aviation mysteries. Doesn't that sound pretty basic? We haven't even gotten to the weirdest part yet. The same plane landed 47 years later in Bogoto, Colombia, with human skeletons, a warm cup of coffee, and a dated newspaper. What happened to the plane in 1946? Who was the mastermind behind all of this?