Rising number of aviation experts

When a plane is 45,000ft there will be no oxygen. That is why the pilot flew that high. He was trying to extinguish a fire, said a frizzy-haired, 40-something woman as she loudly discussed what happened to MH370 that disappeared into thin air on March 8.

"No, there is still oxygen at that height. I know as my nephew is a pilot," said an animated 50-something man in a mamak shop in Petaling Jaya.

"Then why did the pilot fly that high?" she said.

I was seated two tables away, enjoying my kopi ais (iced coffee) and telur tiga-suku (three-quarter-boiled eggs). I was at the mamak shop to get far away from the madding crowd - with overnight PhDs in aviation - who incessantly discussed the missing MH370.

There's no escaping the MH370 discussion, however. It is as if everybody, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, alternative rocker Courtney Love and Raja Bomoh Sedunia Ibrahim Mat Zin, has taken a instant course in aviation or conspiracy theories.

Actually, there was nothing original in the discussion. It is an echo of an echo of an echo. They're just regurgitating what they read or watched on CNN, The Star Online or The Daily Mail.

Take that frizzy-haired woman, for example. She was actually quoting the widely reported "startlingly simple" theory of Chris Goodfellow, whom Wired.com identified as having "20 years' experience as a Canadian Class-1 instrument-rated pilot for multi-engine planes".

Goodfellow speculated that Flight MH370 caught fire and the pilot headed to a nearby airport to save the Boeing 777-200, eventually crashing into the Indian Ocean.


If that man, who has a pilot as a nephew, had read a BBC News report, he could have debunked the Goodfellow theory and checkmated that frizzy-haired argumentative woman.

"Considerable information that was already in public realm contradicts the story. By Tuesday evening, writers and commentators were picking Goodfellow's post apart," BBC News reported.

There are so many contradictions in the coffeeshop talk that I've heard and overheard on the missing plane.

On Wednesday, I was told that Raja Bomoh Sedunia held a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. Curious to know what his latest insight on the missing plane was, I decided to see the 80-year-old bomoh in the flesh.

My first impression of him is he's a nice guy, the kind you want to invite to your birthday party so that you don't have to hire a clown or tarot card reader.

"What do you think of the spoofs that orang sedunia (the whole world)' has created to mock your rituals (coconuts and magic carpet)?" I asked.

"I'm not angry. They are funny," he said, laughing heartily.

"What happened to the MH370 passengers?" I asked.

"They are still alive. My (bamboo) telescopes saw black so they are alive," he said in Bahasa Malaysia.

"So where are they now?" I said.

"They are in alam ghaib (supernatural world). The orang ghaib (supernatural people) took them. I'm praying they will return them to our world. I need another five more rituals in KLIA to release the plane. But Jais has stopped me," he said.

"Why did the orang ghaib take them?" I asked.

"It is the same. If a UFO was to enter our world, we would capture it," he said.

"What are the passengers experiencing right now?" I asked.

"They don't know that they have been captured by the orang ghaib. They still think they are flying to Beijing. In alam ghaib, you will feel you've been there for a day when actually you have left alam dunia (our world) for a month," he said.

Two days later, I attended the last PKR big rah! rah! on the Kajang by-election at Kajang Stadium. There was no escaping the mention of MH370. I thought the missing plane would not be dragged into politics.

On stage about 30 minutes before midnight was Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who would have been the party candidate if not for his past catching up with him. Dressed in black, Anwar hit out Raja Bomoh Sedunia for bringing shame to Malaysia. He also criticised the Government for a Daily Mail story.

The British tabloid report suggested that pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah might have diverted the plane as a political act in his support for Anwar, who was jailed five years for Sodomy II.

Anwar's diehard supporters cheered when the politician, who would have been Selangor Mentri Besar, claimed that the Government fed Daily Mail the information linking the captain to him. If Anwar was honest in his political rhetoric, he would have told the crowd that what the tabloid reported was coffeeshop talk on why the plane is missing. Days before the Daily Mail report, we knew about the sensational theory but we didn't report it as we were respectful of the pilot.

"You know ah, if only MAS bought a RM50 upgrade on each of its planes, nobody would be able to switch off the transponder," a 30-something friend told me yesterday.

"Blah blah blah blah blah," I heard him say, as I had switched off and stopped paying attention to his conspiracy theory.


The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.