As the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight drags into its 11th day without tangible progress, Internet sleuths are looking for answers. Any answers. From anyone.
The characteristically outspoken Courtney Love was the latest self-styled expert to weigh in with her theory last night on Twitter — which is marvelously evidence-based (!), as far as such theories go. Love, one of the thousands of people scouring crowdsourced satellite site Tomnod for signs of the plane, thinks it crashed into the ocean a mile from the small Malaysian island of Pulau Perak.
But what of the Internet's more imaginative conspiracy theorists — you know, the ones who think the Defense Department orchestrates natural disasters and 9/11 was an inside job? They have a few ideas that make Love look like a veritable aviation expert. We trawled their message boards and YouTube channels so you don't have to.
1. The plane never crashed — it's just invisible! In a twist straight out of the"Star Wars" saga, some theorists are claiming that Flight 370 deployed "electronic weaponry" and "cloaking devices" that have simply hid it from radar detection. "Today's electronic warfare (EW) capability includes weaponry that can hide planes," argues an article on the skepticism-inducing WorthyToShare.net, which sadly offers no solution to how said weaponry would get on a passenger plane.
2. Flight 370 "shadowed" another plane into Indian airspace. An Ohio IT worker/hobby aviationist named Keith Ledgerwood apparently started a Tumblr for the sole purpose of propagating this theory — with pretty decent results. His lengthy post on how the missing plane could "hide" from radar by flying close to another jet has been reblogged nearly a thousand times. "It sounds totally crazy," an aircraft accident investigator told Business Insider.
Crazy — but possible! Airplanes can indeed fly in formation. The chances of coordinating and timing such a coordination are just very, very slim.
3. The plane has been at a U.S. Navy base the whole time. The U.S. maintains a logistics base called Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago. Because the Chagos Archipelago is in the Indian Ocean, and because Diego Garcia does indeed have a runway, many a theorist has joyfully concluded that the U.S. military either (a) captured the plane, (b) shot it down as it swooped in for an attack, or (c) planned to divert it to the installation all along. No one ever explains why the U.S. would take such an extraordinary measure, though The Total Collapse — a prepper Web site that predicts the apocalypse — is convinced that the plane carried some "highly suspicious cargo" from Seychelles.
It doesn't exactly help that Diego Garcia is, per a book by American University's David Vine, "one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States." As maps of the search area make pretty clear, however, the island is far from either of the routes suggested by Flight 370's last satellite contact — which would put it west of Perth, Australia, or above the southeast Asian mainland.
4. The plane was shot down by a hostile country that is not the U.S. This gem comes courtesy of radio host Rush Limbaugh, who posited that "some hostile country flew up there and shot it down, and then discovered their mistake and nobody wants to admit what happened," immediately after acknowledging that he had no idea "if this is possible" or not.
5. Flight 370 was hijacked by extremists — possibly jihadists — who may re-outfit the plane for an attack. None other than media mogul Rupert Murdoch has advanced the hijacking theory, arguing on Twitter that the plane is hidden, "like Bin Laden" (!), in Northern Pakistan. Others have read nefarious future plans into the hijacking, fed by a weekend report in the Telegraph that al-Qaeda may have, at one time, been planning a "9/11-style attack" with Malaysian extremists. Pakistan has said its radars never picked up a jet.
6. The flight was abducted by aliens. "You really need to consider Santa Clause here bro," retorted a user on the conspiracy forum Above Top Secret — one of many, many places where the alien/time-space continuum/wormhole theory has been proposed.
7. The Illuminati planned it — and even warned the world in a Pitbull song! Pitbull seems like an unlikely herald of the coming New World Order, but some amazingly earnest YouTube commenters insist that his 2012 song "Get It Started," featuring Shakira, alludes to the plane's disappearance. The lyrics contain a passing reference to Malaysia: "but for now it's off to Malaysia/two passports, three cities, two countries, one day."
Per the YouTube masses, the "two passports" are the two stolen passports used by Iranian passengers apparently migrating to Europe, and the three cities are Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and wherever the plane is now. Alas, Pitbull and his Illuminati masters did not think to include that third location in the song.