IN the dimly lit cabin were 238 dead passengers and crew, most sat belted in their seats – oxygen masks uselessly dangling – as the plane cruised at 40,000ft.
At the controls was “sad and lonely” captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, nearing the end of his meticulously planned and astonishingly elaborate murder/suicide plot.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah appears to have rehearsed the route of the doomed MH370 on hie home-based Microsoft flight simulator[/caption]
That is the eerie picture painted by a new report into what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, which disappeared from radars over the South China Sea shortly after take-off in March 2014.
Much of the evidence centres on the mental state of the troubled married pilot, 53, who liked to bed the beautiful air hostesses that shared his flights around the globe.
His fragile behaviour — revealed in alarming new testimonies from friends — has led to suggestions that Shah was responsible for the tragedy that claimed all aboard the plane, including himself.
Between flights, pals say, Shah would pace the empty rooms of his home in Malaysia like a caged tiger.
One old friend said: “Zaharie’s marriage was bad. In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants. And so what? We all do.
“You’re flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back. But his wife knew.”
The revelations come in a comprehensive new report from American aviation expert and journalist William Langewiesche.
The report also points to a forensic examination of Shah’s at-home flight simulator, which showed he repeatedly practised the doomed route, even crashing the simulated flight into the Indian Ocean.
SEEDY COMMENTS ON TWIN GIRLS’ FACEBOOK
Shah is now thought to have cut communication with the ground before intentionally depressurising the cabin and climbing to a height of 40,000ft so passengers would lose consciousness and gently die “without any choking or gasping”.
But what would make him want to take his own, and 238 other, lives?
Before piloting the fateful flight, Shah developed an obsession with twin models Qi Man Lan and Lan Qi Hu on social media, littering seedy comments on their Facebook profiles.
Under a photograph of one of the girls — 30 years his junior — in just a towel, the father of three commented that she looked as if she had just emerged from a shower.
He is also known to have been emotionally involved with a married woman and her three children, one of whom was disabled.
Of all the paths on the simulator, the one that matched MH370’s was the only one that Shah did not run as a continuous flight
Shah criticised the Malaysian government more than 100 times on social media, including branding then-Prime Minister Najib Razak a “moron” on Facebook.
But perhaps more disturbing is the history of his home-installed Microsoft flight simulator.
A new report in US magazine The Atlantic uncovers how an FBI examination of the simulator revealed that he experimented with a flight profile very similar to that of MH370.
He directed his path north around Indonesia, followed by a long run to the south, ending in fuel exhaustion over the Indian Ocean.
Dr Victor Iannello, an engineer and entrepreneur in Roanoke, Virginia, found something staggering during his independent investigations.
Of all the paths on the simulator, the one that matched MH370’s was the only one that Shah did not run as a continuous flight.
In all the others he would take off then let the flight play out until it reached its destination.
Super sleuth Blaine Gibson in Madagascar with potential MH370 scrap found in 2016[/caption]
In the contentious one, Shah advanced the flight manually in multiple stages, repeatedly jumping forward and subtracting the fuel as necessary until it was all used. Dr Iannello believes that the suspected near-identical simulation was Shah’s way of saying goodbye. He said of the real crash: “It’s as if he was simulating a simulation.”
Before diverting the plane on its tragic course, he would first have to overcome his cockpit companion, first officer Fariq Hamid. That could be easily done, according to a pal and fellow pilot quoted in the magazine.
He said: “All he had to say was, ‘Go check something in the cabin’ and the guy would have been gone.”
‘CABIN OCCUPANTS WOULD HAVE BECOME INCAPACITATED WITHIN MINUTES’
Experts say control was seized within the cockpit between 1.01am and 1.21am. When the plane started to turn off course, radar data shows it climbed up to 40,000 feet — close to its safe limit.
Expert William Langewiesche believes the sharp climb was to accelerate the effects of manually depressurising the plane, leading to the death of everyone in the cabin.
In his report, he writes: “An intentional depressurisation would have been an obvious way — and probably the only way — to subdue a potentially unruly cabin in an airplane that was going to remain in flight for hours to come.
“The cabin occupants would have become incapacitated within a couple of minutes, lost consciousness, and gently died without any choking or gasping for air.”
While many now believe that Shah was responsible for the tragedy, wild conspiracy theories have also raged.
Some claimed Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered special forces to take control of the flight, while others have suggested the plane was a victim of a remote cyber hacking. There was also some suggestion of an Asian equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle — an area off Florida where many planes and ships are said to have disappeared in mysterious circumstances.
When Zahid Raza, Honorary Consul of Malaysia, was shot dead in Madagascar in 2017, the rumour mill went into overdrive.
‘TWO DOLPHIINS APPEARED, MY MUM’S SPIRIT ANIMAL’
Zahid had spent years searching for debris from the missing plane along with another amateur sleuth, Blaine Gibson. Blaine, a US lawyer, claimed his friend had been due to deliver new evidence to Malaysia before he was killed.
“I don’t know if they are related, but the timing is highly suspicious,” he said. Blaine himself has been credited with finding a third of all the pieces of suspected MH370 wreckage that have washed up on Indian Ocean islands and the coastlines of South Africa.
He began a self-funded investigation into MH370 in 2015.
At first his mission took him to Cambodia and Myanmar, to explore the possibility the plane had flown north.
Next he moved on to Mozambique. Rifling through rubbish on one sandbank there, he stumbled across a 2ft-long grey triangular scrap of metal.
He said: “So my mind was telling me it’s not from the plane, but my heart was telling me it is.
“Then we had to take the boat back. Two dolphins — my mother’s spirit animal — appeared and helped lead us off that sandbank. When I saw those dolphins, I thought, ‘This is from the plane’.”
His instincts were correct.
MH370 – WHAT HAPPENED?
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur and was heading to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Passengers included Chinese calligraphers, a couple on their way home to their young sons after a long-delayed honeymoon and a construction worker who hadn’t been home in a year.
But at 12.14am on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines lost contact with MH370 close to Phuket island in the Strait of Malacca.
Before that, Malaysian authorities believe the last words heard from the plane, from either the pilot or co-pilot, was “Good night Malaysian three seven zero”.
Satellite “pings” from the aircraft suggest it continued flying for around seven hours when the fuel would have run out.
Experts have calculated the most likely crash site around 1,000 miles west of Perth, Australia.
But a huge search of the seabed failed to find any wreckage – and there are a number of alternative theories as to its fate.
The scrap, from a horizontal-stabiliser panel, was determined with almost 100 per cent certainty to be from MH370.
Four months later, in June 2016, Blaine turned his attention to the remote north-eastern shores of Madagascar.
He found three pieces of the plane on his first day and two more a few days later.
When word got round that he would pay for MH370 debris, for locals the search was on.
He once handed over £30 for one section — and an entire village went on a day-long bender with the money.
William writes: “What Gibson’s discovery of so many pieces of debris has confirmed is that the signals analysis was correct.
“The airplane flew for six hours until the flight came suddenly to an end. There was no effort by someone at the controls to bring the plane down gently. It shattered.”
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His report also exposes the deep inadequacies of the Malaysian investigation.
Because the Malaysians allegedly withheld what they knew, the initial sea searches were concentrated in the wrong place, the South China Sea.
If they had been more upfront, the all-important black boxes might have been recovered.
But without them, it seems inevitable now that we will never truly know what happened to the plane that simply disappeared out of the sky.
Grief as families learn that MH370 won’t be arriving[/caption]
The arrival board shows Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 as ‘delayed’ at Beijing Capital International Airport[/caption]
Two relatives hold a photo of a man who was on MH370[/caption]
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