Malaysia Airlines flight vanishes with more than 200 people aboard - HISTORY
Year
2014

Malaysia Airlines flight vanishes with more than 200 people aboard

On this day in 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, loses contact with air traffic control less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur then veers off course and disappears. Despite a massive air-and-sea search effort for the Beijing-bound Boeing 777, investigators have failed to find any trace of the aircraft or determine why it vanished.

The plane departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing Capital International Airport at 6:30 a.m. local time. However, at 1:07 a.m., the aircraft’s last automated position report was sent, and at 1:19 a.m. what turned out to be the final voice transmission from the cockpit of the doomed jetliner was relayed to air traffic controllers: “Good night Malaysian three seven zero,” a message that suggested nothing out of the ordinary. About an hour after Flight 370 was scheduled to land in Beijing, Malaysia Airlines announced it was missing. Prior to the aircraft’s mysterious disappearance, it had been flying seemingly without incident. There were no distress signals from the plane or reports of bad weather or technical problems.

The ensuing search for Flight 370 initially was centered on the Gulf of Thailand, where the plane was traveling when radar contact was lost. Investigators looked into the possibility of terrorist involvement in the plane’s disappearance after it was discovered that two passengers had been using stolen passports; however, this theory, at least in relation to the two men, soon was determined to be unlikely. (The people onboard Flight 370 represented 15 nations, with more than half the passengers from China and three from the United States) Then, on March 15, investigators said that satellite transmissions indicated Flight 370 had turned sharply off its assigned course and flown west over the Indian Ocean, operating on its own for five hours or more. On March 24, Malaysia’s prime minister announced the flight was presumed lost somewhere in the Indian Ocean, with no survivors. As the search for the aircraft continued, with more than two dozen nations, including the United States, participating in the effort, the mystery of how a commercial jetliner could vanish without a trace received global media attention.

In June 2014, Australian officials involved in the investigation said radar records suggested Flight 370 likely was flying on autopilot for hours before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. The officials did not publicly speculate about who put the plane on autopilot after it veered off course or why, although they did indicate it was possible the crew and passengers had become unresponsive due to hypoxia, or oxygen loss, sometime before the plane crashed. No explanation for what might have caused the oxygen deprivation was provided by the officials. Meanwhile, other authorities suggested one of the pilots of Flight 370 could have deliberately flown the aircraft into the Indian Ocean on a suicide mission, although there was no conclusive evidence to support this theory. On July 17, 2014, four months after Flight 370 vanished, tragedy struck again for Malaysia Airlines, when one of its planes was shot down over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. All 298 people aboard the aircraft, also a Boeing 777, perished. European and American officials believe Flight 17, which took off from Amsterdam and was en route to Kuala Lumpur, was downed by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists battling the Ukrainian government. The rebel leaders and President Vladimir Putin of Russia denied any responsibility for the incident.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Egypt opens the Suez Canal

Following Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Egyptian territory, the Suez Canal is reopened to international traffic. However, the canal was so littered with wreckage from the Suez Crisis that it took weeks of cleanup by Egyptian and United Nations workers before larger ships ...read more

Anglo-Ottoman force takes Abukir Bay

During the Napoleonic Wars, combined British and Ottoman Empire forces successfully establish a foothold in French-occupied Egypt at Abukir Bay. In taking the strategic naval port, some 1,100 British soldiers perished, including Sir Ralph Abercromby, the commander of the ...read more

February Revolution begins

In Russia, the February Revolution (known as such because of Russia’s use of the Julian calendar) begins when riots and strikes over the scarcity of food erupt in Petrograd. One week later, centuries of czarist rule in Russia ended with the abdication of Nicholas II, and Russia ...read more

February Revolution begins in Russia

In Russia, the February Revolution (known as such because of Russia’s use of the Julian calendar) begins on this day in 1917, when riots and strikes over the scarcity of food erupt in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). By 1917, most Russians had lost faith in the leadership ability ...read more

U.S. Marines land at Da Nang

The USS Henrico, Union, and Vancouver, carrying the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade under Brig. Gen. Frederick J. Karch, take up stations 4,000 yards off Red Beach Two, north of Da Nang.First ashore was the Battalion Landing Team 3/9, which arrived on the beach at 8:15 a.m. ...read more

Thieu orders force withdrawal

South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu orders the withdrawal of South Vietnamese forces from the Central Highlands. In late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire had been established by the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese launched Campaign 275. The ...read more

Ali battles Frazier for heavyweight championship

On March 8, 1971, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier meet for the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bout marked Ali’s return to the marquee three-and-a-half years after boxing commissions revoked his license over his refusal to fight in the Vietnam ...read more

Emmet Dalton goes to prison

Emmet Dalton, the only survivor of the Dalton Gang’s disastrous attempt to rob two Kansas banks, begins serving a life sentence in the Kansas State Penitentiary.Born in 1871, Emmet was the youngest of the three Dalton brothers, who banded together to pursue a life of crime. ...read more

MTV’s highest rated series premieres

On this day in 1993, the Music Television Network (MTV) airs the first episode of the animated series Beavis and Butthead, which will go on to become the network’s highest-rated series up to that point.Beavis and Butthead offered audiences rude and crude buddy humor in the ...read more

Mount Etna erupts

On this day in 1669, Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily in modern-day Italy, begins rumbling. Multiple eruptions over the next few weeks killed more than 20,000 people and left thousands more homeless. Most of the victims could have saved themselves by fleeing, but stayed, in ...read more

The Lonely Hearts Killers are executed

The Lonely Hearts Killers, Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, are executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in New York. The strange couple had schemed to seduce, rob and murder women who placed personal ads in newspapers. Beck and Fernandez boasted to killing ...read more

C.S.S. Virginia terrorizes Union navy

On this day in 1862, the Confederate ironclad Virginia wreaks havoc on a Yankee squadron off Hampton Roads, Virginia.The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a 40-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Merrimack served in the Caribbean and was the flagship of the ...read more