This story begins with “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. He once had former (and current) President Nasheed of the Maldives as a guest. The Maldives are in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India. President Nasheed was an excellent guest, protested his ouster, and advocated international attention to climate change because the island nation of the Maldives is barely above sea-level.
However, his story seemed incomplete and his op-ed in the New York Times a few days later was equally unsatisfying.
So I called the Maldives and spoke with the new President Waheed’s press secretary. We scheduled a radio conversation with President Waheed, had an excellent one-hour discussion, and he presented additional information about Nasheed’s ouster that wasn’t reported in major media outlets.
Enough said on that subject.
The world was fascinated by the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370 on March 8, 2014. Media around the world reported many aspects of the story and fueled much speculation. On May 2, the New York Times’ reporters Chris Buckley and Michael Forsythe wrote a story entitled, “17-Minute Delay Found in Reporting Missing Plane” in which they provided a time line and made two statements which begged additional questions:
“Experts eventually concluded that the plane must have fallen into the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia.”
“Experts believe that the plane made a mystifying turn to the south shortly thereafter.”
To the New York Times credit, they have a department that the public can contact concerning the veracity and accuracy of stories. I emailed them with two questions regarding Buckley and Forsythe’s story:
“Who are the experts?” and
“Upon what basis were their conclusions reached?”
The Times contacted me and promised to look into it and follow-up with me but they did not. I also tried to contact the writers directly but they are virtually inaccessible.
The statements made by experts were important because the last two radar detection points showed Flight 370 heading west toward the Maldives. There is no evidence the plane headed south. Furthermore, not reported in the major media, the Maldives local media “Haveeru” confirmed that “Residents of the remote Maldives island of Kuda Huvadoo in Dhaal Atoll have reported seeing a ‘low-flying jumbo jet’ on the morning of the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.” They described the jumbo jet as white with with red stripes. Malaysian Airlines planes are typically white with red stripes along their fuselages. The eyewitnesses said the plane was flying from the north to the southeast. The witnesses commented on the incredibly loud noise the low-flying plane made. This was also reported by an organization named GlobalResearch.org.
The Maldives are about 2,000 miles west and in the path of the last two radar detection points at 2:22am. If the airspeed was approximately 500 miles per hour, it would have arrived at the Maldives early in the morning.
I called the Maldives Presidential press secretary who was then a well-connected private citizen and he enthusiastically said the Haveeru story is true. He elaborated and said he spoke to the reporters. He said that six or seven people reported it and they described the distance from them as making the airplane look like it was “five feet long (1.5 meters)”. If one holds ones hands five feet apart and imagines a jumbo jet within that space, the nearness of the plane can be visualized. It was close.
Significantly, the press secretary added, three of the witnesses were teachers. That significance escaped me but the press secretary elaborated, “In Islamic culture, teachers are honored for their integrity and truthfulness. They would not lie. Three teachers are undeniable.”
The President of the Kudahuvadhoo Island Council (the American equivalent of a governor), Zameer Ismail, spoke with the witnesses, stood for their reliability, and agreed to have a phone conversation about the sightings. However, the next day, representatives of the Maldives Ministry of Defense told Mr. Ismail not to talk to the media. The Maldivian and Malaysian Defense Ministries simply said the sightings were “not true” and Haveeru reported the “not true” statement. The Defense Ministry representative also told Mr. Ismail they would contact him and investigate the the story. They have not done so. Mr. Ismail has not spoken to to the media to my knowledge.
It should also be noted that the Maldives – as a nation – represent 90,000 square miles of Indian Ocean and 4,000 square miles of of islands. The Maldives were specifically excluded from the list of countries Malaysian authorities sought help searching for the missing jet over the Indian Ocean. Malaysian authorities did seek help from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and France.
Given this information, is it possible the plane seen flying low over Kudahuvadhoo could have been mistaken for another commercial airliner? Haveeru used the New York Times un-named expert and wrote, “The possibility of any aircraft flying over the island at the reported time (6:15am) is extremely low.”
Jumbo jets fly into the Maldives capital of Male’. Oman Air, Qatar Air, Swissair, and UAE flights arrive between 7;30am and 8:51am. They would not have reason to fly over Kudahuvadhoo at low altitude at that time.
The question also must be asked: Is it possible for a low-flying jumbo jet to fly into airspace undetected by radar? The answer is surprisingly: Yes. The press secretary explains the Maldives rely on a “secondary radar system” that does not report objects if the transponder in the aircraft was switched off. This was verified by a commercial pilot in the United States who is highly-respected, a former military pilot, and a former candidate for a national political office.
The commercial pilot was then asked if a pilot could find a 4,000 square-mile island chain from 2,000 miles away using one transponder reading. He said “yes”. I then asked if a pilot could find a 17 square mile island from 2,000 miles away at night using one transponder reading. He said, “unlikely”. The last question was: Could you visually fly to a 17 square mile island 650 miles away if you had your bearings and without a transponder reading? He said “yes”.
These odd questions were asked to introduce the subject of Diego Garcia – the U.S. Military base in the Indian Ocean. A pilot who had his visual bearings over the Strait of Malacca at the northern tip of Sumatra could, with one transponder reading,plot a course for the Maldives. The pilot would be unlikely to find Diego Garcia. However, once the pilot’s bearings were established over the Maldives, the pilot could find Diego Garcia without a transponder.
The time line, the distances, the direction, the speeds, and the eyewitness accounts fit the possibility.
There is much speculation about the disappearance of Flight 370. I do believe the wreckage will someday be found just outside the South Indian Ocean search area. There will be personal effects found among the debris and the case will be closed.
I’ve heard the speculation about the Carlyle Group, the defense contractors, and the radar technology that disappeared with the passengers of Flight 370. There is certainly no way I can comment on any of that. Those are issues for conspiracy theorists to pose and international journalism to pursue.
However, I do believe a low-flying white jumbo jet with red stripes flew over Kudahuvadhoo within a valid time window the morning after the disappearance of Flight 370.