On the night in question (7th-8th March), I was standing a night watch alone. Well, sitting, really. Watching the stars, since I had been spending the passage identifying and learning a new constellation every night. And I thought I saw a burning plane cross behind our stern from port to starboard; which would have been approximately North to South. It was about half the height of other flights which I had been gazing at during that part of the passage.
Since that’s not something you see every day, I questioned my mind. I was looking at what appeared to be an elongated plane glowing bright orange, with a trail of black smoke behind it. It did occur to me it might be a meteorite. But I thought it was more likely I was going insane.
At the time we were at the tail end of a very, very harsh passage into the weather which was mountainous, having been flooded badly from the anchor locker and swamped from the companionway so EVERYTHING was soaked, and stays breaking amongst other stuff which just piled up to make me flip. By this time my rucksack was packed, and the divorce planned.
When we hit land everyone was talking about the missing plane and asking if we’d seen anything. Since I had doubted what I saw and was emotionally in a bad way, I brushed over what I thought I’d seen, and focused instead on the stories of Boatie who was ‘missing’ on the Atlantic, and Eric and Charlotte who’d scuppered in the Pacific.
Besides, I thought, they’ll find it.
But tonight I heard that they were looking in the wrong place, so HWMO and I looked back through our GPS log, and lo and behold, what we saw was consistent with the confirmed contact which authorities had from MH370.
My questions are:
1 – Who should I tell? And should I bother?
2 – If it was a plane on fire that I saw, how long would it maintain its flight and where would it be likely to end up.
Attached are screenshots of where we were at that time (the highlighted portion of our track).
I also posted this on Cruisers Forum, which is absolutely the best sailing forum out there, and got some helpful responses. Member ‘category4jay’ was particularly helpful in forcing me to clarify my thoughts. I have printed our conversation below. My responses to him are in red:
Jay, I agree entirely with all these points, and they all factor into why I didn’t report it sooner. I’m answering in red since I can’t be bothered splitting all the points into seperate quotes:
[QUOTE=category4jay;1553637]Wow what an incredible story. Leave it to a cruiser to break the biggest mystery in history. You obviously have a moral and/or ethical duty to report your story to the appropriate officials. But beware and be prepared you’re gonna get grilled (questioned).
1. Why did it take so long? Seriously. There are tons of publicity hounds out there willing to lie to make the news.
Because I couldn’t believe what I think I saw. I mean, I saw it, but it was just so unlikely. Plus I was stressed by the time we hit shore. Very stessed. And I wasn’t absolutely sure of what I had seen, and can’t even be positive it was that night. I don’t follow the news, not even when ashore (I barely have time to do my job, it’s lucky I have an understanding boss). The reason it started bothering me today was because of a news item on Thai Radio saying the survey boat is heading back in due to technical difficulties, and it peaked my interest.
2. “On the night in question (7th-8th March).” Was it the 7th or 8th?
We were on passage, I don’t even know what day of the week it was. I only know it was defintely toward the end of the passage, but not right at the end. I had no idea we were even in that area at the time. That I only found out tonight when we reviewed the situation.
3. “I was standing a night watch alone.” No corroborating witnesses. Exactly. And I was fearing for my sanity. Who’d believe me anyway? I found it hard to believe at the time. And when I got ashore I was focused on fixing my personal problems and catching up on work.
4. “I thought I saw a burning plane.” Thought??
I saw something that looked like a plane on fire. That’s what I thought it was. Then I thought I must be mad. Especially since I was highly stressed at the time.
5. “It was about half the height of other flights which I had been gazing at during that part of the passage”. What “height” was it? Half of what?
It was much lower than the planes which had passed overhead that night. That’s one reason I can be sure it was within those few days, since there were no planes passing over when we were in the middle of the ocean. So, if planes normally cruise over oceans at around 30,000 to 40,000 feet, this was approx 10,000 to 20,000 feet. That’s my guess. Now I reflect on it, I also think it was at approx the same height that short haul planes cruise down the Arabian Gulf.
6. “I questioned my mind… I thought it was more likely I was going insane.” Thats not gonna play well.
But it’s the truth. I know that. Who’d have believed me when I had a hard time believing what I was seeing myself. That’s why I didn’t report it then
7. “At the time we were at the tail end of a very, very harsh passage into the weather which was mountainous, having been flooded badly from the anchor locker and swamped from the companionway so EVERYTHING was soaked, and stays breaking amongst other stuff which just piled up to make me flip. By this time my rucksack was packed, and the divorce planned.” Relevancy?
Not relevant. Just explaining to fellow members why I was stressed, and hence doubting my sanity.
8. “I had doubted what I saw and was emotionally in a bad way.” The sound of a solid witness? Not really.
I absolutely agree. That’s why I didn’t bother saying anything.
SS I’m not discounting what you thought you saw or anything you’ve said. Just be prepared. Very prepared…especially if you are right and you did see MH370. Your world will never be that same if you provide THE clue. Good Luck.
If the authorities are interested, they can ask. But I am sure that the few other witnesses who saw it near Malaysia and Vietnam have quickly much settled back into their life post their 5 minutes of fame.
I am guessing that what I saw won’t add much to what they already know, although I don’t know much myself about what they know. I repeat, I don’t follow the news.
You remember the thread that ran right after it? I glanced at it, said a prayer for Pelagic’s friends, considered posting what I saw, then moved on without taking action. Was I right to dismiss what I had seen? I don’t know. But I seriously had my head in the sand for a few months after that passage.