As investigators try to piece together what happened to Flight 370, a new theory claims that hijackers may have dipped the plane to a dangerously low altitude in order to hide their flight path, a claim that is supported by multiple eyewitnesses near the South China Sea.
How do you fly a massive Boeing 777 over multiple countries without being detected? Like this: Investigators are reportedly now claiming that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, after it had been diverted off course by hijackers, dropped to an extremely low altitude of 5,000 feet, which would have allowed it to avoid radar detection by using the surrounding terrain as a sonar barrier.
Flight 370 Dropped To Low Altitude To Avoid Radar — Officials Say
Officials believe Flight 370 dropped from its flying altitude of 45,000 ft. all the way down to 5,000 ft. as it flew over Kelantan in northeast Malaysia, according to the New Straits Times.
This method is known as “terrain masking,” and it is a textbook technique used by pilots who don’t want to be detected by radar. Because the plane would have been flying so close to the ground, surrounding terrain, like mountains and trees, would have rendered radar useless.
But the mountains and trees that act as a radar barrier also act as obstacles — the plane could have easily crashed into something by flying so low in the dark — so terrain masking is extremely risky.
Malaysia Flight: Eyewitnesses Saw The Aircraft?
This new theory that Flight 370 flew close to the ground over Kelantan is actually supported by reports by multiple villagers that they saw bright lights and loud noises on the night of the flight.
Alif Fathi Abdul Hadi, who lives in the northwest of Malaysia, said he saw a light heading towards the South China Sea at 1:45 a.m. “I was walking towards the rear of my house when I saw the light, and wondered where it was heading to,” Alif told the New Straits Times. “Airspace here is like a highway for aircrafts and they usually travel in routine patterns. However, the light I saw was moving towards a completely different direction.
After Alif’s claim, a fisherman about 100 miles south of him reported seeing a light streaking overhead at 1:30 a.m. At least eight other villagers have filed police reports claiming that they saw a low-flying aircraft in the northeast near the Thailand border, heading north.
Which all means that whoever took over Flight 370 went to great lengths to make sure they weren’t detected by authorities, but it didn’t go completely undetected.
— Andrew Gruttadaro