Charlene loves researching and sharing her knowledge through writing. She hopes to inform and entertain others.
Statistically speaking, airplanes are significantly safer than cars. However, there is something unsettling and spine-chilling about airplanes that mysteriously disappear along with their passengers. Despite these incidents being eerie, they evoke a sense of curiosity. This article takes a look at airplane mysteries that remain unsolved to this day.
Airplanes That Mysteriously Disappeared
- Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
- Amelia Earhart’s Plane
- Flight 19
- Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
1. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
When: March 8, 2014
Where: Indian Ocean
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Flight 370 is considered to be one of the biggest mysteries in modern aviation history, continuing to baffle investigators and the general public. Several theories about what happened to the flight have been proposed, including but not limited to depressurization, a murder-suicide, a hijacking, or a fire.
Veering Off Course
The airplane was supposed to take a northeastern course from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. However, about 40 minutes after takeoff, the plane sharply turned westward at around the same time that it lost communication with air traffic control. Malaysian military and civilian radar were able to detect the plane for about another hour until the plane left the range of the radar over the Andaman Sea at 2:22 AM local time. Communications between the plane and an Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite lasted for nearly six hours after the plane left the military radar.
Some Recovered Debris
On July 29, 2015, the right-wing flaperon of the airplane was found on a beach in Saint-André, Réunion. Since then, over 30 pieces of aircraft debris have been discovered—they have either been definitively linked to the plane or identified as a part of a Boeing 777. In 2017, authorities ended the multinational search efforts. The private company of Ocean Infinity also became involved in the search for the plane in 2018, and they plan on resuming their search operation in either 2023 or 2024.
2. Amelia Earhart’s Plane
When: July 2, 1937
Where: Pacific Ocean
Aircraft: Lockheed Model 10-E Electra
What happened to Amelia Earhart is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. Her life story and legacy continue to intrigue people today.
Who Was Amelia Earhart?
Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer. Her inspiration for flying comes from the fascination of her experience with an airplane ride in December 1920. This led to her choosing to take flying lessons the following month. With a passion for aviation, she is notable for the number of aviation records she achieved. Some of these include being:
- the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (and the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean)
- the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California
- the first woman to receive the United States Distinguished Flying Cross
- the first woman to make a solo, nonstop flight across the United States
Earhart encouraged women to challenge restrictive social norms and worked to ensure that women would have plenty of job opportunities.
Her Attempt of Circumnavigating the Globe
On June 1, 1937, Earhart publicly announced her plans to fly around the globe, and the press tracked her progress. She and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida, to head for San Juan, Puerto Rico. For about a month, they successfully made numerous stops in several countries, nearly achieving the goal of circumnavigating the world.
On July 2, 1937, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea. They intended to go to Howland Island; it would have been their third-to-last stop and the longest single leg of the journey. The United States Coast Guard Cutter Itasca was waiting there to guide them, but between faulty voice communications and overcast skies, Earhart and Noonan never made it to the island. The location of the plane and its two famous occupants are unknown.
3. Flight 19
When: December 5, 1945
Where: Atlantic Ocean
Aircraft: Grumman TBM Avenger
Five torpedo bombers departed the Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a routine training flight. The flight leader was Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor.
During the Flight
The start of the flight went well, with the crew being able to drop their practice bombs with success. For the second leg of the journey, however, Taylor became disoriented. He was convinced that the compasses were not working and that the airplanes had not been flying in the right direction. It didn’t help that the weather had worsened either.
Taylor made several different turns, with the other pilots reluctantly following suit. In one of his last known messages, Taylor was heard telling his men to prepare for a crash. Static eventually replaced radio communications.
After the United States Navy realized that Flight 19 had been lost, two PBM Mariner flying boats were dispatched in order to search for the airplanes and the 14 crew members. However, 20 minutes later, one of the Mariners—holding 13 people—also disappeared. The next day and over the course of five days, there were search efforts to look for Flight 19 and the Mariner. The six aircraft and 27 men were never found.
The Bermuda Triangle
This particular incident attracted attention because it formed the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is described as a location in the Atlantic Ocean where ships and airplanes mysteriously disappear. Numerous conspiracy theories exist about the area. However, no evidence suggests that ships and planes are more likely to disappear in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other ocean region.
4. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
When: March 16, 1962
Where: Pacific Ocean
Aircraft: Lockheed L-1049H Super Constellation
Chartered by the United States military, Flight 739 had 93 U.S. Army soldiers, three South Vietnamese soldiers, and 11 crew members. The names of the people on Flight 739 are not on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., because the soldiers were not in a combat zone when they went missing. However, a memorial in Columbia Falls, Maine, honors the missing passengers.
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War lasted for two decades, starting on November 1, 1955, and concluding on April 30, 1975. The 96 traveling soldiers in the airplane in 1962 were not visiting Vietnam to engage in combat. Rather, they were ordered to relieve soldiers who had been helping South Vietnamese forces train to fight Viet Cong guerrillas.
The airplane left Travis Air Force Base, California, to reach its destination of Saigon, Vietnam, with four scheduled refueling stops along the way. Its four stopovers were supposed to be in Honolulu, Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines. The plane did not get refueled in Honolulu or Wake Island because of delays; however, it was able to in Guam.
Approximately an hour and a half after departing Guam, the pilot reported his coordinates as being 13°40’N 140°0’E. Although the plane was supposed to be at the coordinates of 14°0’N 135°0’E an hour later, radio contact could not be made with the plane. It never reached the Philippines or Vietnam.
Nothing Has Been Recovered
Flight 739 truly disappeared without a trace. Not a single body or piece of debris from the airplane has ever been found. The plane is said to have exploded while in motion, but without physical evidence, it is hard to know whatever happened on the flight.
Sources and Further Reading
- Facts About Malaysia Flight 370: Passengers, Crew & Aircraft
Learn more about some of the facts regarding Flight 370.
- The Mystery Behind Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance
Read extensively into Amelia Earhart’s life, her flight around the world, and the debunked conspiracy theories that surround her disappearance.
- Flight 19 Disappearance: Most Likely Cause
Look into the more elaborate details of Flight 19.
- Mysteries Of Flight: Flying Tiger Flight 739 Disappearance
Get more information about the details of Flight 739 and some of the theories.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.