Lost plane puts fear into flyers

IF YOU had friends or family on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 you would undoubtedly be hoping against hope for a miracle - that somehow, just somehow, they would be alive and safe somewhere.

But with the likelihood of the 239 people on board being both alive and safe, what news would you want to hear the least?

That the plane had crashed either accidentally because of an emergency or deliberately because of foul play?

Or that something more sinister had occurred: like the plane being hijacked and secretively flown to another country? The passengers might be hostages or they might have been killed if the cabin was depressurised when the plane flew above 13,000 metres.

It is the not knowing that must be the hardest part.

So when suspected debris was spotted in the Indian Ocean by a satellite and the search honed in on the area, what would the friends and families be hoping for?

That it was the wreckage and they could find out the fate of their loved ones? Or that it was something unrelated and they could continue to hold out a faint hope?

So far (as of Friday morning) nothing has come from the search. The area is smack bang in the Roaring Forties, where rough weather, high seas and strong tides would have seen the debris move since the images were taken.

Searchers are trying to cover an area of more than 23,000 square kilometres - Tasmania is about 90,000 square kilometres to put it in some type of perspective.

Perhaps that's the greatest fear this mystery attaches itself to. That in this globalised world, our friends and loved ones are never far from hopping on a plane and flying around the world.

The story has gripped the world and fostered a host of theories; conspiracy and plausible.

It is certainly the mystery that has garnered our attention but perhaps there are other elements, too, that reach down deeper into our subconscious.

Like an inherent unease of flying: that it's unnatural for humans to be locked in a steel tube that is flying at 800km/h, 10,000 metres above the ground. Or the fact that someone you don't know is in charge of your life and you have to trust them because you have no control.

If I knew people on that plane what outcome would I want from the latest search? I think I'd want the debris to confirm the plane had been found - to end that horrible and potentially unending wait.

Because that means it was more likely to be just an accident or emergency. That would be easier to accept than a hijacking or pilot suicide.

I was working the Saturday night when the first news came through that the flight was missing, presumed crashed.

For a horrible moment I struggled to remember when a mate who was flying home to China was leaving. He was travelling with Malaysian Airlines and was making the exact Kuala Lumpur to Beijing leg. He wasn't answering text messages, but thankfully he did eventually and said he was going four days later.

Perhaps that's the greatest fear this mystery attaches itself to. That in this globalised world, our friends and loved ones are never far from hopping on a plane and flying around the world.

And if we never find out what happened to flight MH370, or if the cause is nefarious, we will always be uneasy the next time we or our loved ones fly.

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