The Nine Year Anniversary of the Greatest Aviation Mystery of All Time

Mar 20, 2023 | kstrickland

On March 8th, 2024, a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing took off at 12:41am. Less than an hour into the flight, the unthinkable happened -- the flight vanished without a clue of what had gone wrong. As the flight transitioned from the Malaysian airspace, air traffic control passed the flight off to Ho Chi Minh. "Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero", radioed the pilot in command, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and that was the last anyone heard from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The flight, operated with a Boeing 777-2H6ER, seemed to disappear into thin air and all attempts to contact the crew were unsuccessful. Six hours after it's departure, at 6:31am the same day, flight MH370 never arrived into Beijing airport leaving officials and loved ones confused and struck by grief at the potential loss of all 277 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the flight. Only a week later, the Malaysian Prime Minister pronounced all missing persons from the flight dead.


The Search For Missing Flight MH370

After the flight did not arrive at Beijing airport, the most expensive search for a missing plane in history began. According to, the aircraft had disappeared from ATC radar screens after communication was lost, but military radars were still able to track the flight as it turned sharply away from its original northeastern course to head west and cross the Malay Peninsula, continuing that course until leaving the range of the military radar at 02:22 while over the Andaman Sea northwest of Penang Island in northwestern Malaysia. The Andaman Sea then became the main search location, until Inmarsat, a British satellite telecommunications company provided data they received from the flight periodically linking up to their satellite. This data showed that MH370 turned southward once it reached the Andaman Sea, continued to fly for hours, and eventually ended in a remote part of the Southern Indian Ocean.

Extensive search efforts were conducted for a little over four years, from March 2014 to May 2018. The hunt for any remains from Flight MH370 or the passengers aboard was conducted in a 46,000-square mile sea search zone in the Southern Indian Ocean, and after four years there was no sign of the plane to be found during the actual search. However, some debris believed to be from the aircraft has been found in seven different locations, outlined below.

Saint André, Réunion (2015)

  • The first piece of MH370 debris was found in July 2015, washed up on the shore of the French Island, Réunion. The debris was 2,500 miles away from the underwater search for the plane and was found by a local man called Johnny Bègue. Two months after Johnny’s discovery, officials confirmed the debris was a 2.7 meter-long flaperon (the moveable part of the plane’s wing). Officials also found what they thought were the remains of a suitcase, a Chinese water bottle, and an Indonesian cleaning product, in the same area.

Xai Xai, Mozambique (2015)

  • Six months before the flaperon was found, another piece of debris was discovered by a South African teenager called Liam Lotter while he was on holiday in Mozambique. After discovering a meter-long mental piece, which had the code 676EB stenciled on it in the style of Malaysia Airlines, he took it back home and didn’t realize what it could be until months later.

  • Investigators said it was part of the plane’s flap track fairing (which protects the wing flap and reduces drag) and was “almost certainly from MH370”

Vilankulo, Mozambique (2016)

  • In February 2016, adventurer Blaine Gibson (who was on a self-funded hunt to find pieces of the plane) found a piece of debris with “NO STEP” written across it in Mozambique. The discovery was analyzed in Australia and confirmed to “almost certainly” be a piece of one of MH370’s stabilizer panels.

Mossel Bay, South Africa (2016)

  • A month later in March 2016, a 70cmx70cm panel with Rolls-Royce font used by Malaysian Airlines was found in Mossel Bay by an archaeologist called Neels Kruger. The piece is likely to have come from the missing plane but aviation investigators haven’t been able to confirm specifically which side or part of MH370 it was from.

Rodrigues Island, Mauritius (2016)

  • At the end of March in 2016, a couple from Réunion who were on holiday in Mauritius found the only debris yet discovered from the inside of the plane. Experts said the piece Jean Dominique and Suzy Vitry had found was a panel segment from the main cabin of the plane.

Pemba Island, Zanzibar (2016)

  • In June 2016, a large wing flap was found on Pemba Island in Zanzibar. There were several numbers, including a date stamp, on the metal piece of the debris, which proved it was from MH370.

Sainte-Luce, Madagascar (2016)

  • In September 2016, two pieces of debris were found by fishermen in Madagascar and were handed over to the authorities by the adventurer Blaine Gibson who found the other debris in Mozambique. But investigators said there was no evidence that linked the debris to MH370 because the marks on the surface of the pieces weren’t caused by fire.

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The Past Nine Years

March 8th 2023 marked the nine year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysian Airline Flight MH370. The longevity of the disappearance with no evidence of the plane's existence (other than parts that have washed ashore) has sparked much conspiracy. In a new Netflix documentary, MH370: The Plane that Disappeared, attempts to piece together what actually happened on flight MH370 - noting three of the most 'popular' theories of why the flight might have vanished from the sky.

After nine years of speculating why this tragedy occurred, friends and loved ones of the passengers aboard flight MH370 are still searching for answers and closure. Louise Malkinson, the director of MH370: The Plain that Disappeared, recently said "It's the greatest aviation mystery of all time. This is a world where we have mobile phones and radar and satellites and tracking, and so to be nearly nine years down the line… and still have so little is extraordinary." In light of the anniversary, families of those on board are hopeful for a reignition in the search for Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 by Ocean Infinity, a US seabed exploration firm, hopeful for answers as to what really happened on flight MH370.