"All right, good night" those were the last words spoken from the cockpit of Flight MH370 to air traffic controllers on Saturday as they were entering Vietnamese airspace. Shortly after that, the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people on board. The flight originated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was on its way to Beijing, China.
Since then some 43 ships and 39 aircraft from at least eight nations, including the United States' Seventh Fleet, have been searching an area of 35,800 square miles. Meanwhile, families of the missing wait.
Over the past five days, there have been many false sightings of wreckage forcing searchers to jump to several different locations, and nobody seems to have a real handle on where to look.
"Armchair quarterbacks" are the most critical of the way Malaysian authorities are handling the search. Many of the so-called experts on the social media and blogging circuit are from the United States. This is a time when we all should be working harder to forge solutions rather than doling out criticism. If we can't offer solutions, then how about posting words of comfort for the families of the missing?
Flying about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand, around 1:30 Saturday morning, Flight MH370 disappeared with no distress signals or any indication it was experiencing any problems. There were no civilian radar reports to help with better locating the last known location of the flight. Searchers began looking for traces of the flight after two oil slicks were reported off the coast of Viet Nam. That turned out to be false. A day later, possible wreckage was spotted in the Gulf. The search expanded. That, too, turned out to be false. The broadening search, so far, has yielded only more theories.
Authorities later reported that air defense radar picked up traces of what might have been the plane turning back and flying until it reached a busy shipping lane in the Strait of Malacca, about 250 miles from the plane's last known coordinates; a report that still needs to be verified.
Malaysian officials have not ruled out any possible cause, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage or terrorism. There were two Iranians on board with stolen passports raising the question of possible terrorism. But it appears at least one of them was seeking asylum in Germany. There currently are conflicting reports of the safety records of both the Boeing 777 and Malaysia Airlines.
The U.S. Seventh Fleet is doing their best along with their counterparts and Malaysian officials. Satellites are even being used in hopes of spotting wreckage.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysian Defense Minister, described the multinational search as an unprecedented and complicated undertaking for his country. After all, it has been two decades since a fatal incident occurred for Malaysian Airlines.
We all need to curb our criticisms and think about the families of those who are missing on Flight MH370. They will be successful in their search; we need to understand that it might take some time.
We'll all have plenty of time to express our thoughts on the incident and the aftermath after all the facts are in.