12 Haunting Aviation Mysteries That Remain Unsolved
Aviation mysteries have baffled the greatest minds in history for centuries. Dozens of planes have vanished into thin air, troubling aviation experts. There’s often little or no evidence in the case of airplanes disappearing, making it impossible to know the fate of these missing planes and the passengers on board them.
Since humans first took flight, there have been a series of mysterious disappearances and aviation accidents. The nature of these disappearances often results in a surge of theories and conspiracies concerning the planes vanishing. Maybe these planes were victims of a terrorist attack or they disappeared while flying over the Bermuda triangle. Some may have landed on random islands while others are believed to have crashed into the cold sea or slammed into the side of a mountain.
Let’s retrace the final moments of these 12 strange disappearances and try to understand these aviation mysteries.
12 Haunting Aviation Mysteries That Remain Unsolved
1. Amelia Earhart
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart could never resist a good adventure or challenge. She became a symbol of feminism and courage and made history as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928.
In late 1930, Earhart decided to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. On June 1, 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami to embark on their historic trip. Sadly they didn’t make it to their final destination. The last time anyone saw the pair was on July 2 as they departed Lae, New Guinea, for Howland Island before completing their final leg.
As they approached Howland, Earhart attempted to radio the nearby USS Itasca for help landing. They were unable to make contact and disappeared that night. Many theories regarding their fate include crashing on a nearby island or sinking into the ocean. Other theories suggest they became prisoners or faked their deaths. Regardless, the iconic Earhart disappearance remains a great mystery.
2. Star Tiger
The mysterious disappearance of the Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft, Star Tiger, helped fuel the myth of the Bermuda Triangle. The flight initially departed Lisbon for Bermuda on January 28, 1948, but made a stop in Santa Maria, Azores. Due to the lousy weather, Star Tiger remained an extra night in Santa Maria before taking off the next day. At some point the crew realized they had steered off course over the Atlantic Ocean before vanishing off the face of the earth.
An extensive search failed to discover a single shred of evidence. Numerous inquiries and investigations offered very few answers. The disappearance of the Star Ariel in 1949 helped fuel the myth of the Bermuda Triangle being a place where planes and ships go missing. Most modern theories presume the Star Tiger ran out of fuel, causing it to crash and sink to the ocean floor where it remains unfound.
3. Air France Flight 447
On May 31, 2009, Air France Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for its final destination of Paris, France. Tragically the passenger flight disappeared from the sky without a trace. It was one of the most mysterious disappearances involving a passenger flight. Even more perplexing, Airbus A330 disappeared without sending out a mayday or radioing for help.
Investigators discovered that erratic airspeed, weather conditions, and human error caused the plane to crash into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, killing all 228 passengers and crew on impact. Five days after the accident, the Brazilian Navy discovered part of the wreckage and two bodies. However, they couldn’t find the rest of the plane and it took nearly two years before they found it on the bottom of the ocean floor.
4. Star Ariel
The disappearance of the Star Tiger and Star Ariel helped ignite one of history’s greatest mysteries. On January 17, 1949, Star Ariel traveled from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. With 13 passengers onboard, ground control lost contact with the pilot shortly after take off.
The plane never reached its final destination in Jamaica and disappeared forever over the Atlantic Ocean. The Avro Tudor Mark IVB’s disappearance was another missing place that helped create the Bermuda Triangle legend.
5. Helios Airways Flight 522
Investigators spent years trying to determine the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Helios Airways Flight 522. On August 14, 2005, Flight 522 departed Larnaca, Cyprus, for Prague in the Czech Republic. The flight made a stopover in Athens and asked the ground crew to inspect a door leak. During the inspection, the engineer set the pressurization system to “manual” and forgot to reset it to auto.
Upon take off, the crew also failed to set the system to auto during the three system check. The control tower realized something was wrong instantly and observed the first officer slumped in his chair and the pilot absent. Evidence suggested that depressurization in the cabin decreased, causing several passengers and crew members to pass out. A flight attendant that was still awake attempted to land the flight, although it crashed in a rural area. All passengers and crew members died.
6. Pam Am Flight 7
The crash of Pan Am Flight 7 and the events leading up to it remain shrouded in mystery. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser left San Francisco for Honolulu on November 8, 1957. The around-the-world aircraft disappeared after making its final transmission. Strangely air traffic control only noticed the flight’s disappearance nine hours after the last dispatch, meaning several hours has passed before any rescue teams began searching for the wreckage.
The leading theory suggests that the plane ran out of fuel at some point, causing it to crash into the Pacific Ocean miles from Honolulu International Airport. However, the actual cause of the crash remains unsolved. The flight crew not sending a distress signal only adds to the mystery. The crash killed all 36 passengers and crew members onboard. At that time, it was the largest search and recovery mission.
See more about - 15 Unsolved Disappearances That Shocked The World
7. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to its last stop at the Beijing Capital International Airport. Roughly 40 minutes after takeoff the Boeing 777-200ER veered off course and cut off communication with air traffic control. It last made contact over the South China Sea as it drifted off course and eventually off the radar. The initial search occurred in the South China Sea but soon moved to the Indian Ocean. There were no signs of wreckage in either sea at the time.
In 2015 and 2016, pieces of the plane washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean. The rescue and recovery teams began to narrow their search in that area. Some theories suggest hijackers took control of the aircraft or an uncontrolled decompression occurred. All 239 passengers and crew members are presumed dead. The aircraft’s location and the events leading up to its disappearance remain one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.
8. Pam Am Flight 214
The crash of Pan Am Flight 214 on December 8, 1963, was one of the most mysterious crashes of the 60s. The flight departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, and headed for Philadelphia International Airport. It had one stopover in Baltimore before resuming its flight. The bad weather caused the Boeing 77-121 and four other planes to stay in a holding pattern until the winds calmed. The nearby planes watched in horror as Flight 214 suddenly became engulfed in flames.
It sent out a mayday but crashed in a cornfield in Elkton, Maryland. All 81 occupants onboard died in the tragic accident. The cause of the accident baffled even the greatest minds. The prevailing theory was lightning struck the plane, igniting the vapors in the fuel tanks, and causing an explosion blowing off the wing. But before this incident, there had never been a lighting-related accident. While many in aviation denied lightning caused the accident, there was substantial evidence to suggest otherwise, notably burn marks on the debris.
9. Yemenia Flight 626
Yemenia Flight 626 crashed into the Indian Ocean in the early morning of June 20, 2009. The Airbus A310-324 departed from Sana’a, Yemen, and was heading towards Moroni, Comoros. As it approached Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport, the flight crew’s improper control inputs caused an aerodynamic stall. For some reason, the crew ignored protocol and aircraft warnings and the twin-engine jet airliner overshot Moroni and crashed into the Indian Ocean.
Among the 154 passengers, one miraculously survived. 13 hours after the crash, rescue crews found 12-year-old Bahia Bakari holding onto the wreckage. Bakari was unaware she was the only survivor until arriving at the hospital in Paris.
10. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
The mysterious disappearance of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 on March 16, 1962, triggered one of the most extensive searches of the Pacific Ocean. Chartered by the United States military, the Lockheed Super Constellation carried U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers from a California Air Force Base to Saigon, Vietnam. The aircraft made a brief stop for refueling at Andersen Air Force Base in Guan.
The flight continued on its way when it vanished over the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. military searched the ocean for the missing aircraft for eight grueling days. Despite the massive search, the military couldn’t find the wreckage, bodies, or debris. The leading theory suggests an in-flight explosion occurred mid-flight. All 107 aboard were declared missing and presumed dead.
11. Star Dust
At 1:46 pm on August 2, 1947, the Avro Lancastrian airliner, Star Dust, departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina, headed toward Santiago, Chile. At 5:41, the radio operator sent a Morse code to the Santiago airport to expect them by 5:45. StarDust never reached Chile and disappeared for over 50 years.
After sending the Morse code, the plane crashed into Mount Tupungato in the Andes. Rescue teams couldn’t find a single piece of debris despite knowing the exact location of the crash. With the flight’s mysterious disappearance, conspiracy theories about the aircraft and the eleven occupants’ fate ran rampant. In 1998, two climbers discovered pieces of the wreckage as they ascended Mount Tupungato.
Further investigations revealed the entire wreckage emerging from glacial ice. Evidence suggests the crew assumed they cleared the mountain tops and began descending when it crashed into the mountain, instantly killing everyone. The aircraft was immediately buried by snow and ice, hiding the wreckage for over 50 years.
12. Flight 19
On December 5, 1945, five Avenger torpedo bombers participated in a United States Navy navigation training flight. Better known as Flight 19, the group departed the Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The entire group, including all 14 airmen, disappeared in the sky over the Bermuda Triangle. Communication between the airmen and the control tower indicates what occurred that night.
After his compass stopped working, Lt. Charles Taylor mistook a group of islands for the Florida Keys. So he headed west, assuming he’d reach the Bahamas and eventually Florida. The flight change took them way off course west, leading to the open sea. At that point, they likely ran out of fuel. Despite an extensive search, rescue teams failed to find any of the aircraft.
See more about - 10 People Who Faked Their Death And Almost Got Away With It