Flight from Malaysia disappeared

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Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby ConMan » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:45 pm UTC

A summary of events.

So a plane took off from KL on Saturday, then two hours later vanished from all systems including radar. Despite extensive searching, there's no sign of it yet but there have been a few false alarms including a claim that Vietnam had gotten a signal from the plane after it disappeared, and some oil slicks that are apparently boat rather than plane fuel. Most suspiciously, 2 of the passengers were flying using passports that had been stolen from the same part of Thailand, and were listed on Interpol databases as being stolen.

At this point, I think it's practically certain that there's little to nothing of the plane left to be found - disappearing so suddenly suggests some kind of explosion or other event that would probably disintegrate the plane by the time it hit the ground (or water). The thing about the stolen passports, though, makes it extra-suspicious.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby poxic » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:04 pm UTC

Another angle: "...it is worth noting that the use of fake passports in Asia is not a rare occurrence. It probably raises more questions over the airport's security, rather than adding to the mystery of the vanished jet." (Article on Intl Business Times.)

Also a bit sobering is the news that Interpol's database of stolen passports is not systematically checked by airports.

(Note on that last link: the article says the database is "hardly used", then gives statistics of 800 million db searches vs. 1 billion unchecked passenger journeys per year. Note to NewEurope Online: a 44% check rate is not "hardly used".)

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:09 pm UTC

How often are stolen passports used on planes? How often does it mean a (violent) crime is taking place versus people fleeing a country?

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Joeldi » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:34 am UTC

I've been in a long distance relationship, and have concurrently developed a mild to medium fear of flying. I'm flying to Kuala Lumpur in one month on Malaysia Airlines. I know statistically I'm fine. But I'm still going to be pissing myself for the next 30 days :(
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Adacore » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:00 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:How often are stolen passports used on planes? How often does it mean a (violent) crime is taking place versus people fleeing a country?

I would assume it's much, much more frequently related to illegal migration (and possibly smuggling?) than any other crime. The violent crime statistics probably increase significantly if you limit the criteria to planes that subsequently vanished or crashed, though.

I'd be surprised if it was a big mid-air explosion - surely that would leave a large debris field, at least some of which would float and thus be seen by the colossal search effort? It seems more likely that the plane broke up upon hitting the water, as that would constrain the debris field and cause most of it to sink.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Chen » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:01 pm UTC

Adacore wrote:I'd be surprised if it was a big mid-air explosion - surely that would leave a large debris field, at least some of which would float and thus be seen by the colossal search effort? It seems more likely that the plane broke up upon hitting the water, as that would constrain the debris field and cause most of it to sink.


This does seem like the likely scenario. Apparently the tracking they had for the plane would stop reporting the plane's position if it dropped below 29000 ft (presumably the satellite connection isn't good enough at that point) so a dramatic loss of altitude and subsequent high speed crash into the ocean is the most likely reason to not have found anything yet. It'd be very similar to the Air France flight that crashed off the coast of South America a couple of years ago.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby PolakoVoador » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:50 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Adacore wrote:I'd be surprised if it was a big mid-air explosion - surely that would leave a large debris field, at least some of which would float and thus be seen by the colossal search effort? It seems more likely that the plane broke up upon hitting the water, as that would constrain the debris field and cause most of it to sink.


This does seem like the likely scenario. Apparently the tracking they had for the plane would stop reporting the plane's position if it dropped below 29000 ft (presumably the satellite connection isn't good enough at that point) so a dramatic loss of altitude and subsequent high speed crash into the ocean is the most likely reason to not have found anything yet. It'd be very similar to the Air France flight that crashed off the coast of South America a couple of years ago.


Didn't AirFrance have a somewhat good notion of where the plane was when it crashed? I don't remeber that crash being as mysterious or Lost-like as this last one in Malaysia.

And every news source is reporting that the guys with stolen passports probably weren't terrorists.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Diadem » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:33 pm UTC

Chen wrote:This does seem like the likely scenario. Apparently the tracking they had for the plane would stop reporting the plane's position if it dropped below 29000 ft (presumably the satellite connection isn't good enough at that point) so a dramatic loss of altitude and subsequent high speed crash into the ocean is the most likely reason to not have found anything yet. It'd be very similar to the Air France flight that crashed off the coast of South America a couple of years ago.

But planes don't instantly go from cruising altitude to the ground. That takes time, several minutes even in the worst case scenarios. Plenty of time for the pilots to contact air control and inform them that something is wrong. The fact that the pilots didn't report any problems prior to the plane disappearing indicates that whatever happened was extremely sudden. An explosion is the most obvious explanation, and it is pretty hard to think of others.

An explosion doesn't mean terrorism, but it's certainly one explanation. What others are there?
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby forward4 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:35 pm UTC

This is pure speculation on my part, but I think the airplane was hit by a meteorite. The fact that no debris were found in the search zone says to me that the aircraft was obliterated while at cruising altitude in the stratosphere, where debris would be carried a bit by trade winds away from the search area. Also, the fact that no warning or emergency signals were received means whatever happened happened quickly, and was total. Furthermore, military radar reports indicate the plane attempted to turn around before losing contact. Perhaps the pilot saw the meteor heading towards them at the last moment, and tried to maneuver to avoid it. Meteorites like the one that hit the Russian city last year hit Earth all the time, so it's possible.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Chen » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:24 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:But planes don't instantly go from cruising altitude to the ground. That takes time, several minutes even in the worst case scenarios. Plenty of time for the pilots to contact air control and inform them that something is wrong. The fact that the pilots didn't report any problems prior to the plane disappearing indicates that whatever happened was extremely sudden. An explosion is the most obvious explanation, and it is pretty hard to think of others.

An explosion doesn't mean terrorism, but it's certainly one explanation. What others are there?


In the Air France crash I mentioned before, last verbal contact with the aircraft was at 1:35 and it hit the water at 2:14. The incident in question (from flight data recordings) apparently started at 2:10, which means during 4 minutes of problems on the aircraft no one communicated with the control tower. The root cause of that crash was ice crystals forming in the pitot tubes, causing inconsistent airspeed readings and large errors from the pilots in handling that situation.

In a drastic enough situation, pilot workload can be so high that communication with the tower is not something they would consider until the plane is under control. In a number of those cases the plane may NEVER get back under their control and they just crash and die with no one knowing what happened.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:28 pm UTC

Definitely sobering news, but on the other hand I'm glad to see that so many countries have pitched in to help. It strikes me as different because many air accidents (especially when they happen at this altitude) are unrecoverable, whereas normal international/regional response is usually most visible on recoverable disasters, like earthquakes and volcanoes. Good to see pretty much everyone adjacent send some form of assistance.

Also turns out a guy I knew from college was on that plane. Damn.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Thesh » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:25 pm UTC

Judging by the news, it sounds like after they lost the transponder, they continued to track it on radar and watched it make a dramatic course change.

It seems to me that this is the most likely scenario:

Aircraft suffers catastrophic failure, loses radio and transponder, plane turns around to head for nearest landing strip but loses altitude and crashes, likely into the ocean, possibly into land.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:31 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Diadem wrote:But planes don't instantly go from cruising altitude to the ground. That takes time, several minutes even in the worst case scenarios. Plenty of time for the pilots to contact air control and inform them that something is wrong. The fact that the pilots didn't report any problems prior to the plane disappearing indicates that whatever happened was extremely sudden. An explosion is the most obvious explanation, and it is pretty hard to think of others.

An explosion doesn't mean terrorism, but it's certainly one explanation. What others are there?


In the Air France crash I mentioned before, last verbal contact with the aircraft was at 1:35 and it hit the water at 2:14. The incident in question (from flight data recordings) apparently started at 2:10, which means during 4 minutes of problems on the aircraft no one communicated with the control tower. The root cause of that crash was ice crystals forming in the pitot tubes, causing inconsistent airspeed readings and large errors from the pilots in handling that situation.

In a drastic enough situation, pilot workload can be so high that communication with the tower is not something they would consider until the plane is under control. In a number of those cases the plane may NEVER get back under their control and they just crash and die with no one knowing what happened.


This is common, yeah. There's also frequently a period where the problem is not yet observed...if an instrument is off or something, it may not be noticed right away. Error can be a factor, pilot overload can be a factor...the exact cause could be a wild number of things, I wouldn't jump to an explanation yet.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Diadem » Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:21 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Diadem wrote:But planes don't instantly go from cruising altitude to the ground. That takes time, several minutes even in the worst case scenarios. Plenty of time for the pilots to contact air control and inform them that something is wrong. The fact that the pilots didn't report any problems prior to the plane disappearing indicates that whatever happened was extremely sudden. An explosion is the most obvious explanation, and it is pretty hard to think of others.

An explosion doesn't mean terrorism, but it's certainly one explanation. What others are there?

In the Air France crash I mentioned before, last verbal contact with the aircraft was at 1:35 and it hit the water at 2:14.

Verbal contact, perhaps, but the plane sent several automated messages indicating that there were problems.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:08 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Judging by the news, it sounds like after they lost the transponder, they continued to track it on radar and watched it make a dramatic course change.

It seems to me that this is the most likely scenario:

Aircraft suffers catastrophic failure, loses radio and transponder, plane turns around to head for nearest landing strip but loses altitude and crashes, likely into the ocean, possibly into land.


Image

That seems to be one hell of a course change, though.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:10 am UTC

So, hijacking?

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:19 am UTC

Terrorism-related bodies are checking for signs of hijacking, but so far there doesn't seem to be much evidence for it. The path also doesn't seem to make sense; if it's a hijacking, where were they trying to go? They flew over plenty of cities. The other side has two indonesian provinces, but there's not exactly much to attack there. There's also a high concentration of indonesian army troops in that region. Past Sumatra, it's all open sea.

The turn-around-for-an-airport theory also kind of breaks down, given how they must've flown directly over the peninsula. Given how crowded the waterways are (between the tankers and fishermen) I'm shocked that nobody's found the plane if it's out there.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:22 am UTC

Umm... Prior to 9/11 the two main reasons to hijack were for the hijackers to escape or to gather 200 hostages, not crash the plane. Sometimes, the plane would crash because the hijackers wouldn't understand "this plane doesn't have enough fuel to fly to India".

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:35 am UTC

That's the thing; there's not really a place to escape out there. I'd think hijackers would be at least smart enough to understand that. And how would any hijackers not notice that they did a near-180 and flew over land again?

It just doesn't seem like a plausible scenario, and it looks like any guesswork is going out the window for now. This is just really weird.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby forward4 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:14 am UTC

Steax wrote:That's the thing; there's not really a place to escape out there. I'd think hijackers would be at least smart enough to understand that. And how would any hijackers not notice that they did a near-180 and flew over land again?

It just doesn't seem like a plausible scenario, and it looks like any guesswork is going out the window for now. This is just really weird.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Adacore » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:18 am UTC

The air force is now denying that it tracked a course change, so is there now no evidence that it was off course at all?

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:25 am UTC

I'm not clear on this, but it appears the only indicator that the plane went all the way back was radar, not a transponder, so it wasn't absolute. Could've been an error.

forward4 wrote:The President is on a comedy show with Zach Galifanakis, the Cold War has resumed, Marijuana is being lauded on CNN, and airplanes full of people are disappearing. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.


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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:32 am UTC

I think the Malaysian Air Force was the only source for the course change. So, I don't have any new theories that don't involve reptilian shape-shifters or the Illuminati.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:47 am UTC

Yeah, it looks out the window. The whole idea was weird in the first place, because that route goes over Thai territory and intersects with several big airports and crowded areas.

But that radar must've seen something resembling a 777 over Pulau Perak...
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:35 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Umm... Prior to 9/11 the two main reasons to hijack were for the hijackers to escape or to gather 200 hostages, not crash the plane. Sometimes, the plane would crash because the hijackers wouldn't understand "this plane doesn't have enough fuel to fly to India".


Well, also, even in a 9/11 like scenario, the aim of crashing the plane is usually to crash it somewhere important and cause... terror, rather than disappearing into the ocean without a trace and sparking international intrigue.

Of course, any potential hijackers could have slipped up, been overpowered, etc. and the plane crashed into the ocean due to this failure (similar to something that did happen in 9/11).


However, with no real indication of foul play... it's hard to say what went wrong, but it was probably something else. The only thing to wonder is where in the world it is.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Diadem » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:22 am UTC

Hijacking a plane has also become a lot more difficult since 9/11. Security is a lot tighter. Most flights have air marshals, personal is a lot more aware, and cockpits have strong locked doors. It should be nearly impossible to get into the cockpit as a hijacker these days. Of course should and is are not necessarily equivalent, but without any other indications pointing in that direction it seems unlikely.

The lack of knowledge still surprises me. As a complete outsider, I would have expected all aircrafts to have software that is in continuous communication with air traffic control, so they'd at least know when they lost contact down to the microsecond, and the exact state of the plane up to that point.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Chen » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:48 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Verbal contact, perhaps, but the plane sent several automated messages indicating that there were problems.


Indeed. The aircraft breaking up or complete loss of electrical power would have prevented that type of messaging. I suppose the pilots could have turned it off too (along with the transponder) but that seems unlikely unless one of the pilots wanted to crash the plane intentionally. Terrifyingly enough, that has happened in the past though (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_So ... light_1771, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SilkAir_Flight_185). Though the cause of the latter one is disputed, it dropped from cruise altitude to the ground in less than a minute. If something that quick occurred in this Malaysian air case its possible even the automated recordings wouldn't have been sent out (they usually aren't in continuous transmission with the ground).

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:55 am UTC

They did have constant contact, until it just vanished from radar and nothing else was transmitted. Yes, an extremely rapid descent could be part of that. It's strange that we haven't found any wreckage if that were the case, unless it went underwater as a whole.

So... Yeah, right now "hit by a meteorite like Atlantis in Armageddon" is about as valid a theory as anything else we've got.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:39 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:The lack of knowledge still surprises me. As a complete outsider, I would have expected all aircrafts to have software that is in continuous communication with air traffic control, so they'd at least know when they lost contact down to the microsecond, and the exact state of the plane up to that point.



At the very least, according to the BBC, the Black boxes are supposed to emit ultrasonic signals that can be detected, even underwater, from hundreds of miles away.

This may not be second to second communication with the aircraft (although I suppose radar was close until it mysteriously dropped off) it should be helpful in finding any wreckage, unless it itself was destroyed by some huge force.

The Wall Street Journal/BBC says
Today’s airliners have sturdy emergency-locator devices designed to transmit signals in the event of a crash, as do so-called “black boxes” that contain digital flight data and cockpit recordings. But without knowing the trajectory of a plane as it went down–or fully understanding wind and wave conditions if it crashed into water–searchers sometimes can end up crisscrossing huge areas looking for relatively small pieces of wreckage.



http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26503141
http://blogs.wsj.com/five-things/2014/0 ... ir-safety/

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Chen » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:24 pm UTC

Steax wrote:They did have constant contact, until it just vanished from radar and nothing else was transmitted. Yes, an extremely rapid descent could be part of that. It's strange that we haven't found any wreckage if that were the case, unless it went underwater as a whole.

So... Yeah, right now "hit by a meteorite like Atlantis in Armageddon" is about as valid a theory as anything else we've got.


I was referring to the ACARS system that sends automated messages in the event of faults and such. These type of ground-relay systems generally send messages at fixed intervals and not constantly. Now granted they'd probably send something on the rising edge of a fault/warning but its possible if the system only sends its data packages every minute (or half minute) then a very rapid descent (with faults probably only appearing near the end) it may not result in something being sent at all before crashing. If you just put the plane nose down and dived towards the ground I'm not sure what kind of faults would be set anyways (overspeed maybe?)

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:20 pm UTC

Based on my little knowledge in the area, it would probably trigger the descent speed warning and most likely G-force warning. And as far as I know, any warning will force a transmission.

It looks like whatever took out the plane also took out its electronics in one fell swoop - the transmitter should have backup power to the extent of it still working if the rest of the plane's electronics fail (which would also inevitably cause a crash anyway).
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

forward4 wrote:
Steax wrote:That's the thing; there's not really a place to escape out there. I'd think hijackers would be at least smart enough to understand that. And how would any hijackers not notice that they did a near-180 and flew over land again?

It just doesn't seem like a plausible scenario, and it looks like any guesswork is going out the window for now. This is just really weird.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:15 pm UTC

Eh, the President was always involved in pop culture. Nixon appeared on some cheesy show during his election bid. Wouldn't surprised if Grover Cleveland issued a series of novelty phonographs.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby poochyena » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:13 pm UTC

It could be possible that the pilot(s) had something to do with it. Maybe they turned the equipment off and took the people to some secret hide out, or the pilot(s) died, either from suicide or illness resulting in the lose of control of the plane.
meh, just more speculation.

I guess if people survived, they'd have their cellphones, and could call someone, right? or is there no chance for any cellphone signal?

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Steax » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:25 pm UTC

Depends on where they were. But given the surrounding areas, if they were on land, they'd most likely get some form of cell signal. AFAIK Singapore, Thailand, Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia have near 100% coverage, even in forests. It's a moot point if they're in the ocean, though.
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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Vahir » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:28 pm UTC

Please tell me I'm not the only one who compares this to Lost.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:46 pm UTC

That requires that Lost has realistic writing, as opposed to a series of ever expanding bullshit that fans kept insisting would have resolutions in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Adacore » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:02 pm UTC

I'm still assuming we'll find out what happened eventually. I mean, if we could find Air France 447 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it should be possible to find this plane, given the search area is significantly smaller and shallower.

CorruptUser wrote:That requires that Lost has realistic writing, as opposed to a series of ever expanding bullshit that fans kept insisting would have resolutions in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Lost took the things I disliked about Alias - the mystical bullshit, and just making up new ridiculous plot points whenever they felt like it - (and I loved most of Alias) and made a series based on them.

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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Djehutynakht » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:41 am UTC


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Re: Flight from Malaysia disappeared

Postby Adacore » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:11 am UTC

I'm not putting much faith in any possible air/satellite sightings until it's confirmed by a ship. Also, if those pictures are from Sunday, it might be pretty hard to track down whatever it was 4 days later. I'm not sure what the currents are like in that area, but I doubt things stay exactly where they were. I can see that it does look kinda plane-shaped, if you squint at it; I wish there was a scale, so you could tell whether it was the size of an entire aircraft, or just a smaller piece of debris. The only description in the article is 'a large object', which isn't very helpful.


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