Over the Gulf of Thailand Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens and sparked what has become one of the most baffling episodes in aviation history. For nearly fifty days an international search team led by Australia has followed lead after lead and are yet to find any evidence of the crash site currently believed to be in the Indian Ocean, a thousand miles west of Perth. The fate of this airliner has rekindled memories of other mysterious disappearances of aircraft which have occurred during the first century of powered flight.
One of the most famous disappearances is that of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan as they attempted to circumnavigate the globe in their Lockheed Electra aircraft built specifically for the trip. It is supposed that Earhart ran out of fuel after failing to locate a refuelling station on the remote Howland Island. While this appears to be the most plausible explanation for the disappearance there have been numerous unsubstantiated theories including that Earhart was shot down by the Japanese air force while on a reconnaissance mission aimed at revealing the positions of Japanese forces in the Pacific. The 1937 flight occurred at a time when Japan was beginning to expand its empire and amid heightened international tension in the prelude to the Second World War. It has been posited that Earhart was one of many women who served as Tokyo Rose broadcasting propaganda against the Japanese empire. The myths and legends surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart continues to fascinate and inspire to this day with a memorial flight planned to take place during the summer of 2014.
Perhaps the most mysterious legends surrounding disappearing people, aircrafts and ships have occurred around the Bermuda Triangle. Commonly held to consist of a triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean with points touching Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico, definitions of the area are contested. This means that some events attributed to the phenomenon may actually have taken place outside the region. Several ships have been discovered adrift in the area with no known explanation as to the whereabouts of their crew, other ships including a US Navy vessel, USS Cyclops, have sunk without trace. Aircrafts have not escaped mysterious fate; a US Air force training mission known as Flight 19 went missing as well as a rescue flight sent to locate the team. Theories explaining these losses range from the plausible navigational error and extreme weather events to the considerably less credible extra-terrestrial involvement and the influence of technology from the lost city of Atlantis. As with the legend of Amelia Earhart, the Bermuda Triangle will continue to inspire theories based in both science and pseudoscience.