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Friday, March 5, 2021

Don Woodard: Flight 370 – no answers, no closure, only irony

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 jetliner, took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 happy passengers bound for Beijing. Not long thereafter they may have begun to sense that all was not right nor would it end right, and they must have become filled with an all-pervasive, foreboding fear like that which Shakespeare recorded in his history of Richard III. Whether they realized it or not, the plane had turned into a silver coffin sealed for the ages with 239 claustrophobic, crying, panic-stricken mothers, fathers, children, flying for interminable hours over an unknown, boundless ocean until its last drop of gas was gone.

And what was this terrifying fear that Shakespeare wrote about?

Lord! Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!

What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!

What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!

Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;

Ten thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;

Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,

Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,

All scattered in the bottom of the sea:

Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and, in those holes

Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,

As ’twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,

Which wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,

And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.

The disappearance of the Boeing 777 jetliner has been one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history. Officials believed it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, but why the plane went down is still unknown. A prevailing theory is that not because of pilot error but because of pilot intent the jet flew off course and into oblivion.

An August 6 Associated Press story said that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, reminiscent of LBJ’s sad Vietnam casualty reports, told reporters that “It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts has conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed Malaysia Airlines MH370.” The French island is thousands of miles from the area being searched for wreckage from the flight. U.S. and French officials, the story said, “were more cautious, stopping short of full confirmation but saying it made sense that the metal piece of the wing, known as a flaperon, came from Flight 370.”

After more than 500 days, the beat goes on. Still no closure for friends and relatives, no wedges of gold, no heaps of pearl, no inestimable stones, no unvalued jewels. Only a bare, ruined piece of metal purportedly from a Triple 7 washed up on a volcanic island far, far away called Reunion. Reunion! Supreme irony!

Don Woodard is a Fort Worth businessman and author of Black Diamonds! Black Gold!: The Saga of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

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