Ten of the most mysterious aircraft disappearances

From Amelia Earhart to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, planes have simply vanished

Salvage teams work to retrieve debris from the wreckage of Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

Salvage teams work to retrieve debris from the wreckage of Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

 

A new radar satellite system that will provide rescue services with pinpoint locations of aircraft anywhere in the world in the event of a crash or other incident was unveiled in Co Clare on Tuesday.

It is hoped the system, which will be operated by the Irish Aviation Authority, will end to the phenomena of aircraft vanishing from radar which can hamper rescue and recovery efforts.

Here are ten examples of aircraft that have disappeared.

1. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 carrying 239 people is one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

The aircraft vanished en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th, 2014. Rescuers spent months scouring the seabed and the southern Indian Ocean but efforts were eventually stood down.

2. Air France Flight 447

Ten years ago Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed into the Atlantic with the loss of all 216 passengers and 12 crew.

The tragedy was keenly felt in Ireland as it claimed the lives of three Irish doctors, Jane Deasy from Rathgar, Co Dublin, Aisling Butler from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and Eithne Walls from Ballygowan, Co Down.

The cause was a mystery until the black box flight data and voice recorders recovered from the bottom of the ocean showed the aircraft’s speed recorders had frozen during a storm. The search cost €31 million and took almost two years.

3. Amelia Earhart

On July 2nd, 1937, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea, in a Lockheed Electra 10E on one of the last legs of their around-the-world flight.

However, the Lockheed Electra disappeared over the Pacific and the ground- breaking aviator was never heard from again.

4. Flight 19 torpedo bombers

At the height of World War II, the United States Navy dispatched five torpedo bombers on a routine training flight over the Bermuda Triangle. All 14 crewmembers aboard the five military aircraft were never seen or heard from again.

Hours later, the navy sent an additional 13 men on a search-and-rescue mission in a Marine flying boat. They too were never seen or heard from again.

5. Flying Tiger Flight 739

In 1962, during the preliminary stages of the Vietnam War, United States Army Flying Tiger Flight 739 vanished over the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean on its way to the Philippines from Guam.

No distress calls were received. Despite an exhaustive search party comprising 1,300 people, 48 aircraft, and eight surface vessels, all of which covered roughly 144,000 square miles, nothing was ever found.

6. Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571

A Uruguayan air force plane carrying 40 passengers, including members of the Uruguay rugby team, as well as five crew members disappeared while crossing the Andes on October 13th, 1972.

Seventy-two days later, after everyone on board was presumed dead, 16 survivors emerged. The story of how starvation drove them to eat the flesh of some of the dead passengers was made into the 1993 film Alive.

7. Star Dust crash in 1947

British South American Airways plane Star Dust, flying from Buenos Aires to Santiago, went missing on August 2nd, 1947. It was more than 50 years later, in the late 1990s, when pieces of wreckage began to emerge in the Andes Mountains.

In 2000, various body parts from the flight’s passengers were found, well-preserved by glacial ice.

8. Indian Air Force plane crash

An Antonov An-32 twin engine turboprop transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force disappeared with 29 people on board while flying over the Bay of Bengal in July 2016. The aircraft was en route from the Tambaram Air Force Station to Port Blair.

The search and rescue operation became India’s largest search operation for a missing plane on the sea in history, involving submarines, surface vessels and aircraft. The mission was called off in September with no trace recovered.

9. Lady Be Good

A US Army Air Corps B-24D named Lady Be Good was part of a bombing raid on Italy on April 4th, 1943. It was the only plane of the mission that did not return to its base in Libya. Officials assumed the plane went down in the Mediterranean Sea.

An extensive search was carried out, but no sign of the plane or crew was found. In 1958 an oil survey exploration crew was taking aerial photographs and spotted the plane in the Libyan desert. The plane had crashed, but was preserved well in the arid conditions.

In 1960, the remains of eight of the crew were found at various places in the desert. Among the items found with the bodies was a diary of co-pilot Robert Toner that revealed how the nine bailed out before the crash, with eight surviving.

The survivors walked 85 miles before five gave up and three continued to walk until they died. The remains of gunner Vernon L Moore were never found. It is one of the oldest aviation mysteries.

10. Vancouver Douglas DC-4

The Douglas DC-4 departed from Vancouver in 1951, and was due to stop at Anchorage Airport, Alaska. The weather worsened with a visibility of just 500 feet. An emergency warning was issued when it was too late to report. No trace of the craft and occupant has been found.

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