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MH370 – The Cargo Plane Theory

July 24, 2014

Below I have copied some of a post made on Cruisers Forum (posts #622 & #634) by member Blackkettle. Ed signed up to post a theory into which he has clearly out a lot of effort and research into already, and I believe he intends to investigate further.  I hope he does, because his theory is a very plausible one.  In fact, it sort of illustrates what I had decided this sighting was in the first place.

In a nutshell, his theory is that what I witnessed was a DHL cargo plane, which was being illuminated somehow.  And that theory fits very snugly with my original thought, at the time, that it could be a cargo pane with a bad exhaust.  Especially since some of these planes are painted bright yellow.  In fact, it was one of the images of a DHL cargo plane which another member (Jess28) photo-shopped to best illustrate what I saw, and it was close, so I am open to believing this theory.  For full theory and illustrations, please see the CF thread.

What I am here to say, though, is that the follow up post by Blackkettle contained an image which contains three planes, with a sodium orange colouring this time.  And I feel it is a much better match to what I saw.  The colouring that is.  So I would like to share his image.  He has changed the colouring for this image a little, it is brighter than it was on the version he posted at CF.  And I suspect this is the closest colouring we’ll get in an image.

Now, he also asks if it was possible that what I saw was any of the others.  I don’t think so.  Until I couldn’t find the windows when looking for the source of the ight, I was 100% convinced that I was looking at a passenger plane.  But at the end of the day, I am not a plane spotter, and if asked in a court of law whether I could be certain if the nose was that of image 1 or 2, I couldn’t be certain.  I remember it looking like 1, but as people keep pointing out, my memory of this may have been corrupted by having seen so many images of B777s since I hit Google with a frenzy back in June.

The other details are easy.  The body was like 1, the wings were in the middle.  I know that because I was looking for landing lights and wheels.  But I don’t recall seeing a logo.  Either on the tail or on the body.

Below is the pertinent part of Blackkettle’s post, but I urge you to take a look and read his whole theory.  If you are interested, I also suggest you review Duncan Steel’s Blog (He’s the leader of the independent MH370 investigation team), which shows some very perceptive and intelligent theories and questions about what happened.  I am overawed by the amount of work this diverse team of people has put into finding MH370.

Here follows an extract from Blackkettle’s post:


Another long post but one I felt impelled to share.

A few things in your (very nicely done BTW) well summarized round up of your experience with the mystery plane in post #628 got me thinking again. So here’s a bit more food for thought.

It hit me that the impression you had that the aircraft appeared “to long and pointy to be a cargo plane…” and “The black trail seemed more obvious, and at this stage I wondered if it’s too much or too little oil in the mix that makes the exhaust black” may not be unrelated phenomena. Another minor AHA moment if you will…

The combination of those two observations tends to describe the now aging (and getting fairly rare to see in active duty) Boeing 727 (introduced in the 1960’s), and the later (1980) but beginning to get less common McDonnel Douglas MD-80 series. Both generally appear in profile as “long and pointy” because they have engines mounted at the rear of the fuselage, rather than wing mounted, have a generally narrower width to length ratio (and thus a “longer looking”) fuselage compared to most of the more recent wider bodied aircraft. The 727’s primarily differ from the MD-80 series in that have 3 engines at the rear (one center mounted at the base of the vertical stabilizer) while the MD-80 family (which includes the similar looking MD-81, MD-82, MD-83, MD-87, and MD-88) only have two engines. The later generation MD-90 (1995) and the MD-95/Boeing 717 families (1999) are also similar in appearance.

All these aircraft, by virtue of their rear mounted engines and more aft set wings, are vastly different in profile than the 777 family of which MH370 belongs to. The MD-80’s have a particularly long looking forward fuselage and more pointed nose that the 727’s:

Alternative Illustration, with much better colour suggestion: Ed Truthan

Alternative Illustration, with much better colour suggestion: Ed Truthan

Are the two lower profiles more like what you saw than the 777-200 (MH370) one?








[Edit: don’t get hung up with the amateur images, we have more professional one now which is discussed in later posts:]

EFortuin Mar2015

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