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Sadly enough, only ten days after the Malaysia flight went missing and it seems like people (on my social media timelines at least) have moved on to the next hot topic. It was inevitable with this generation’s ADD and all the nonsensical theories beginning to take over (smh @ these bermuda triangle and alien theorists). Well, a former pilot named Chris Goodfellow is finally adding some perspective that actually contributes to the conversation. In a gist, he says it might have been a tire fire in the front landing gear that prompted the pilots to follow protocols like switching the flight’s course to the nearest airport and switching systems off to locate the malfunction. He then speculates the fire smoke could have overwhelmed them and the passengers. Here’s an excerpt from his post (I highlighted the key stuff in bold because ya’ll lazy and shit):

“A lot of speculation about MH370. Terrorism, hijack, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN – almost disturbing. I tend to look for a more simple explanation of this event.

Loaded 777 departs midnight from Kuala to Beijing. Hot night. Heavy aircraft.  About an hour out across the gulf towards Vietnam the plane goes dark meaning the transponder goes off and secondary radar tracking goes off.

Two days later we hear of reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar meaning the plane is being tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca.

When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and I searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest.

The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do – you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala  Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.

Take a look on Google Earth at this airport. This pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make that immediate turn back to the closest safe airport. For me the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense if a fire. There was most likely a fire or electrical fire. In the case of fire the first response if to pull all the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one.

If they pulled the busses the plane indeed would go silent. It was probably a serious event and they simply were occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, Navigate and lastly communicate. There are two types of fires. Electrical might not be as fast and furious and there might or might not be incapacitating smoke. However there is the possibility given the timeline that perhaps there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires and it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. Yes this happens with underinflated tires. Remember heavy plane, hot night, sea level, long run takeoff. There was a well known accident in Nigeria of a DC8 that had a landing gear fire on takeoff. A tire fire once going would produce horrific incapacitating smoke. Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks but this is a no no with fire. Most have access to a smoke hood with a filter but this will only last for a few minutes depending on the smoke level. (I used to carry one of my own in a flight bag and I still carry one in my briefcase today when I fly).

What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. I said four days ago you will find it along that route – looking elsewhere was pointless.

This pilot, as I say, was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijack would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It would probably have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided on where they were taking it …”

Obviously, this isn’t the official report so it could still be terrorists, aliens, bermuda triangle, and even Godzilla if that’s what you want to believe. But this theory seems to be very plausible from somebody who knows their shit.

[via businessinsider]