I finally had a chance last night to read The Atlantic’s piece on MH370 by William Langewiesche that everyone’s been talking about this week. It’s terrifying and so frustrating, but mostly just so f-cking sad, because the families who lost their loved ones will be living with this tragic mystery, considered perhaps the greatest aviation mystery in history, that may never be solved.
There are a lot of people who don’t really have anything to do with MH370 who are super obsessed with what happened on that flight – and this does not include the specialists and experts who’ve been investigating it. I’m talking about the message boards, the online communities analysing every detail and coming up with their own theories. And the “beachcomber”, Blaine Gibson, who emerges as some kind of rogue protagonist in this story, taking it upon himself, even though he has no real qualifications in any of this complicated aviation business, to try to Indiana Jones this thing. He’s actually compared to Indiana Jones at one point in the article, with his fedora and all. If there was a movie made about this piece (and I don’t doubt that someone in Hollywood who’s read it must be thinking about the possibility) he’d be played by Matthew McConaughey. Typical.
It is, as William Langewiesche reinforces in his reporting, very, very hard to lose a plane these days. Not with the technology we have. Not with all the ways we can communicate and track each other. That part, I guess, is somewhat reassuring – and not. Because no matter how sophisticated we get with radar and satellite and machines, no matter how advanced the tech, no computer can ever come up with a formula that can solve for humanity. Which is not to say that I agree with what seems to be Langewiesche’s hypothesis, if I’m at all in a position to agree given that he’s obviously the highly esteemed aviation journalist. Still, the article is meant to lay out a case for the reader about one of the most confounding aviation disasters of our time – and every reader has a right to process the information and decide for themselves.
Langewiesche’s theory, based on all the evidence he presents, is that it was the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who was responsible. And all kinds of corruption and incompetence that made it worse. The corruption and incompetence are undeniable. But not everyone is ready to blame it all on Captain Zaharie. Clive Irving, at The Daily Beast, has written a rebuttal of William Langewiesche’s thesis, pointing out that at this point, there is simply not enough evidence to make any kind of definitive statement about why MH370 was doomed. That said, Clive Irving too has posited theories of his own that people have taken issue with. So, basically, nobody knows – and that’s the horror of it all, perhaps the biggest horror of all horrors: an unanswered “why” is often the scariest motherf-cker of them all.
Yours in gossip,