Plane hijack theory gives families hope

00:23, Mar 17 2014
MH370
Journalists attempt to interview a woman who is the relative of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as she crouches on the floor crying, at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
MH370
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014.
MH370
The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the airline said in a statement.
MH370
An aerial view of an oil spill is seen from a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft in the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, 250 km from Vietnam and 190 km from Malaysia, in this handout photo from Thanh Nien Newpaper taken on March 8.
MH370
A spokesman (centre) of Malaysia Airlines is surrounded by journalists as he gives a briefing about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing March 8, 2014.
MH370
A relative (front) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she walks past journalists at a hotel in Beijing March 9, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday.
MH370
Malaysia Airlines Commercial Director Hugh Dunleavy (centre) speaks to journalists about information of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
MH370
Vietnamese Air Force officers sit in the cockpit of a search and rescue aircraft as they fly over the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
MH370
Volunteer rescue workers and religious organisations pray during multi-religion mass prayers for the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
MH370
A view of oil slicks (pale line near the bottom right) spotted in an area of the South China Sea about 100 nautical miles (185 km) from Tok Bali Beach in Malaysia's Kelantan state.
MH370
Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, Director General of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, looks at a radar screen while searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the South China Sea.
MH370
A relative (left) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is escorted by a caregiver from Malaysia Airlines as they walk in a corridor at a hotel in Beijing.
MH370
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik applies the final touches to a sand art sculpture he created wishing for the well being of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
MH370
Life vests and lifesavers are seen onboard a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Tho Chu island.
MH370
Journalists place their recorders as they get ready for the first briefing of the day at a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10.
MH370
Relatives of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry inside a hotel they are staying, in Putrajaya. China has urged Malaysia to step up the search for the jetliner that went missing with 239 people on board, about two-thirds of them Chinese, and said it has sent security agents to help with an investigation into the misuse of passports.
MH370
An officer looks out of a helicopter during a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, near Tho Chu Island.
MH370
A map of a flight plan is seen on a computer screen during a meeting before a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, at Phu Quoc Airport.
MH370
A woman stands in front of a giant screen showing the number hours since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing, in Beijing on March 10.
MH370
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waits for news at Lido Hotel on March 10, in Beijing, China. Investigative teams continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 293 passengers that were travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
1464 MH370
Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, in Kuala Lumpur.
Vietnam Air Force plane
Clouds hover outside the window of a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft An-26 on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Vietnam's Tho Chu island.
Family Malaysian Airlines flight
People believed to be relatives of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are escorted to the VIP section of the Beijing Capital International Airport prior to flying to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines
A Chinese relative of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines MH370 is comforted by a staff member of the airport as she shields her face from journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
MH370
A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane.
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search.
General Khalid Abu Bakar
Malaysia's police chief, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, addresses a news conference.
Zhuji, China
Students from an international school in east China city Zhuji pray for the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Flight MH370 relatives
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Family members of missing passengers leave a meeting in a Beijing Hotel.
flight mh370 messages of hope
MESSAGE OF HOPE: A Vietnamese tourist writes a message of hope for missing passengers and crew.
flight mh370 message board
MESSAGES FOR THE MISSING: Tying a message of hope on a message board for passengers and crew.
MH370
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel.
MH370
A charity worker comforts an emotional relative of a passenger.
MH370
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
MH370
Satellite images reveal a possible crash site for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, where three large objects were seen in the water.
MH370
An object sits in the water in satellite imagery released by China.
MH370
The zone where the mystery objects were found.
MH370
What appears to be fuel sits on the water in the area where three large objects were found.
MH370
A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
MH370
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney are seen en transit in the Pacific Ocean in this US Navy picture taken May 18, 2011. Kidd and Pinkney have been searching for the missing Malaysian airliner and are being re-deployed to the Strait of Malacca off Malaysia's west coast as new search areas are opened in the Indian Ocean.
MH370
Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork at a school in Makati city, metro Manila. According to the artists, the artwork is their way of expressing sympathy towards the relatives of passengers onboard the missing Boeing 777-200ER.
MH370
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing plane.
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers who were travelling onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 watch a television displaying a Malaysian press conference at Lido Hotel in Beijing.
MH370
A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he watches a message board dedicated to passengers.
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
22T112752-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A still image taken from video shows an image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean by the Gaofen-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite of CNSA.
22T154849-MALAYSIAAIRLINES-.JPG
Pilot Dave Smith (R) gives a pre-flight briefing aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft before taking off to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at RAAF base Pearce near Perth, March 22, 2014.
22T050439-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their fists as they shout "return our families" to protest against the lack of new information after a routine briefing given by Malaysia's government and military representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 22, 2014.
22T120221-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds up a note that he has just received on a new lead in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 22, 2014.
21T074540-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (bottom C) takes part in a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque in Putrajaya March 21, 2014.
14T074512-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A woman writes on a banner of well wishes for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 14, 2014.
22T043327-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 covers her face as she cries after a routine briefing given by Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 22, 2014.
22T100248-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A girl reads some of the messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
22T132808-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A crew member aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion uses binoculars as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 22, 2014.
22T100554-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A woman writes another message of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
20140320_MALAYSIA_debris.jpg
Map of the southern Indian Ocean locating site where a satellite may have found debris related to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; includes satellite images of possible debris. MCT
Search for MH370
Solid matter is pictured floating in the southern Indian Ocean seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
816702368.jpg
INDIAN OCEAN - This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the planned search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 24, 2014.
MH370
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds satellite images as he speaks about the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 26.
MH370
A satellite photo, showing the locations and co-ordinates of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
MH370
A satellite photo, showing the location of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.

The theory that Malaysia Air Flight MH370 was hijacked has encouraged relatives of passengers who are holding out hope that the missing plane landed somewhere.

"My gut feeling is that it landed. I still feel his spirit. I don't feel he is dead," said Sarah Bajc, a 48-year-old American teacher living in Beijing whose partner, Philip Wood, a 50-year-old IBM executive, was a passenger on the flight.

A former technology executive, Bajc has been one of the most proactive of the family members, setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts encouraging people to keep looking for the plane.

Missing passenger MH370
LOST: Sarah Bajc with her partner Philip Wood, who was a passenger on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The family of missing Australians Bob and Cathy Lawton said the prospect of hijacking was frightening.

Bob's brother David said he felt "empty" not knowing what happened to the Queensland couple.

"If they found the wreckage of the plane then that would be finalised because there's no hope. But while you've got hope, you've got worries too. Because if they're alive, are they being treated well, or what's happening?" he said.

"One part, I'm feeling maybe they're still alive and there's hope there. The other thing is, we don't know where they are. So I just don't know how to feel really."

The Malaysian government said on Sunday that it was searching over a wide area in Asia for the Boeing 777 and the 239 people it carried.

Advertisement

MH370 missing Aussies
QUEENSLAND COUPLE: Catherine and Robert Lawton were also on the missing plane.

Satellite intelligence has suggested two possible routes - one to the northwest with possible destinations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam or Thailand, and another to the south over the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Australia.

"We are looking at large tracts of land. We are crossing 11 countries and as well as deep and remote oceans," said Malaysia's acting transportation minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, said last night at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The flight departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 12.20am local time March 8 and disappeared from civilian radar within 50 minutes. However, Inmarsat satellites picked up tracking information suggesting it remained in flight until at least 8.11am.

MH370 graphic 17/3
MH370 MYSTERY: Explaining the missing Malaysia Airlines jet mystery, as it stands. | <b><a target=_blank href="http://static.stuff.co.nz/files/MH370graphic17.jpg">Click here for full-size graphic</a></b>

Aviation geeks using airport data from X-Plane, a flight simulator website, have identified more than 600 runways within range of the nearly 3,000 miles that the plane could have travelled from Kuala Lumpur.

The flight carried 227 passengers, 159 of them Chinese citizens. On Chinese websites, many people voiced hope that the plane and its passengers might be found unharmed.

"It is the first time it is good news that a plane was hijacked," wrote one microblogger on the popular Sina Weibo site.

"There's still hope for my daughter and her husband to be alive," the parents of one young woman told the Beijing News.

The problem with the hijacking theory is that no group has come forward to take credit for the airplane's disappearance or to make demands.

"That makes it very difficult for us to verify if it is a hijacking or a terrorist act," Hishamuddin said.

Malaysian officials said they were considering a suicide mission by one of the passengers or crew. The pilot and co-pilot were high on the list of potential suspects, because of the expertise required to divert the plane.

Malaysian officials said police had searched the home of 53-year-old pilot Zaharie Adman Shah and removed a flight simulator he kept at home. The co-pilot, Farq Ab Hamid, 27, was also under investigation, as were potentially all of the passengers.

Whoever commandeered Malaysia Air 370 took extraordinary evasive measures.

That person switched off the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and transponder soon after takeover and made a sharp westward turn during a 10-minute leg of the flight between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace, where there is little primary radar coverage.

As the flight zigzagged off course, it also rose to 45,000 feet (13,716 metres), well above the approved altitude for a Boeing 777, possibly to ensure that passengers could not use their cellphones or to incapacitate them by causing a shortage of oxygen, experts say.

"I am making the assumption at this point that the hostages are going to be leveraged," said Bajc, who said she also believed Wood would be a particularly valuable hostage because he was the only US citizen, other than two toddlers, among the passengers.

"This was clearly an orchestrated effort to take the plane. Why would anybody go to hide themselves if they were going to crash the plane into the water or commit suicide?" Bajc said.

The couple last spoke on Friday evening March 7, as Wood was getting ready to leave for the Kuala Lumpur airport for the red-eye flight back to Beijing. She had sent a car to pick him up at Beijing International Airport at 7.30am.

Shortly before 8am, the driver telephoned her to say that the flight hadn't arrived and that there was no information on the arrival board indicating a delay.

"Have you deplaned yet?" she texted him.

When she didn't hear back, she telephoned his Malaysian cellphone and his Beijing cellphone. The former went directly to voice mail and the latter gave a message saying the user had the power off. 

Map of airports where a 777 could land:

- MCT