Pair in MH370 scoop
Two Hamilton men may have achieved a major breakthrough in the mystery over what happened to a missing Malaysian Airlines passenger jet.
It comes in the form of confirmation, for the first time, from the pilot's widow that he was definitely in control of the Boeing 777, just before it veered off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Flight 370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board.
No trace of the plane has been found.
However, using a process of elimination, research and rare access to pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's widow, Hamiltonians Geoff Taylor and Ewan Wilson found the jet's disappearance was no accident, with the finger of blame pointing squarely at the pilot.
Taylor, the Waikato Times' deputy editor, said getting access to Shah's brother-in-law, Asuad Khan, on the island of Penang - and then, by phone, his widow Faisa - was what might be deemed a scoop.
"In the three months-plus since the flight went down no-one in the media has been able to get close to Zaharie's widow. We were lucky to get confirmation from her that it was him who was at the helm. It's a breakthrough, because that was an unknown until now.
"It puts Zaharie right in the mix."
Shah was the man who said "Goodnight Malaysian 370", the last words anyone heard from the aircraft.
Faisa Shah said the couple's eldest son, Ahmad Idris, had made a positive identification that it was her husband's voice. Until now, there has been dispute over whether it was Zaharie or his co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, who uttered the final farewell to air traffic controllers.
A massive sea and air search has found no sign of the aircraft.
Wilson, a commercial pilot and former chief executive of two airlines with qualifications in transport safety investigations, said he and Taylor investigated each piece of evidence and eliminated all the possible scenarios until they were left with "one shocking and unbelievable conclusion".
They are soon to publish the findings in a book Good Night Malaysian 370: The truth behind the loss of Flight 370, which will be released on Amazon Kindle on July 30. In a three-hour interview, Khan, who was convinced Zaharie was not responsible, initially told the pair he believed it was not Zaharie's voice on the recording which authorities released of the conversation between MH370's cockpit and air traffic controllers.
He was prompted to ring Faisa while Taylor and Wilson were present and she confirmed it was indeed Zaharie's voice.
"It was a surprise ending to the interview, but a good one."