The Missing Plane
By Michael Bergeron
The plane that has gone missing now has taken over the national consciousness. Does anybody remember Fantasy Island? Ze Plane! Ze Plane!
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been missing for about a week-and-a-half. This is real news, not some rehash of Republicans versus Democrats, or the usual fodder that propels 24-hour news networks. Yet after several days of reporting the same story over and over the cable news networks are running out of things to say. Stay tuned after the next commercial when we talk to a person who has actually flown on an airplane.
Airplanes occasionally disappear and when they do it is sad, especially for those with loved ones involved. Let’s take a look at some famous missing planes in recent times.
On June 1, 2009 an Air France Airbus A330-203 airliner crashed off the coast of Brazil on the way to Paris. Wreckage was first discovered five days after the event yet the black box was not recovered until almost two years later. By the way, modern flight recorders are housed in an orange colored box. Because orange is the new black.
On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed. The survivors were not found and rescued until December 23 of that year. The survivors had very little food and used the wreckage as a makeshift shelter at their crash site in the South American Andes Mountains at an altitude of approximately 12,000 feet. Of the 27 people who survived the crash an additional eight died in a subsequent avalanche. The remaining passengers resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Two of the survivors made a hazardous trek and eventually reached civilization and soon the rest of the survivors were rescued. This story has been recounted in both books (Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors and Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home) and a feature film merely titled Alive (1993). The cannibalism consisted of skinning pieces of meat from those killed in the avalanche and eating same.
On October 16, 1972 a twin engine Cessna 310 crashed in Alaska on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Among the four people on board was Hale Boggs, then the majority leader of Congress. Thirty-nine days after the crash the search for survivors and the wreckage was abandoned. To this day no traces have been found.
Boggs was an early supporter of Civil Rights legislation. More importantly Boggs was a dissenting member of the Warren Commission. Something to the effect of how the single bullet theory was complete and utter horseshit. Or as Boggs more eloquently said, “I have strong doubts about it.” Boggs had three children including journalist Cookie Roberts.
Conspiracy theorists go on a rage about how Boggs was substantial critical voice about the role of the CIA and FBI in the Kennedy assassination. To wit here is a passage from Warren Commission testimony from January 1964 between Boggs and Allen Dulles (then a former head of the CIA):
Rep. Boggs: So I will ask you. Did you have agents about whom you had no record whatsoever?
Dulles: The record might not be on paper. But on paper would have hieroglyphics that only two people knew what they meant, and nobody outside of the Agency would know and you can say this meant the agent or someone else could say it meant another agent.
In 1971 then House Majority Leader Boggs made a statement in which he suggested J. Edgar Hoover was senile and demand that Hoover resign as head of the FBI. It was the first time Hoover had been lambasted to such an extent in Congress. Needless to say Boggs’ disappearance was controversial in its day. Flash forward to tomorrow. The conspiracy theorists have Flight 370 hiding under camouflage and awaiting a sneak attack on an unsuspecting country.
Who remembers Judge Crater? A member of the corrupt New York City government of his day he disappeared on August 6, 1930 and was never seen again. His “vanishing” caused the then largest missing person manhunt in North America and was jolted by new technology such as the ability to mass produce posters with his likeness and the mass advent of radio. In 1930 12-million-plus households had a radio (with a population of approximately 122-million-plus). You can bet they were glued to their radio sets just as today the unsuspecting are adhered to the CNN/Fox News screen.
Then there’s the television show formerly known as the television show everybody used to watch – Lost, about a bunch of people from a missing airline flight. There’s that scene in the movie This is 40 where the mother finds her 14-year old daughter watching a marathon of all 121 episodes of Lost on the youngster’s iPad. “Mom, it’s blowing my mind.” “You’re too young to have your mind blown.” I’m old enough to know about Judge Crater and I’m too young to have my mind blown about a missing plane.