All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Hunt For MH370 by Ean Higgins

on February 28, 2020

The Hunt For MH370
Ean Higgins
Pan Macmillan AUS
2019, 288p
Read from my local libary

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Somewhere deep beneath the wild seas of the southern Indian Ocean, perhaps in the eerie underwater canyons of Broken Ridge along the Seventh Arc satellite band, lies the answer to the world’s greatest aviation mystery.

Why, on the night of 8 March 2014, did Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 suddenly U-turn, zig-zag up the Straits of Malacca, then vanish with 239 souls on board?

Was it an elaborate murder-suicide by a rogue pilot? A terrible accident such as onboard fire, rapid decompression or systems failure? A terrorist hijacking gone wrong? Or something else entirely?

Award-winning journalist Ean Higgins has led the world media’s coverage of this incredible saga and draws on years of interviews with aviation experts, victims’ families, air crash investigators and professional hunters across land, sea and sky to dissect the riddle of MH370’s fate.

I’ve never been overseas and I don’t fly much – once, maybe twice a year. But I like planes and I find aviation really interesting, especially the ways in which things can go wrong. I’ll readily admit I watch a little too much Air Crash Investigations and this book isn’t the first I’ve read on a plane disaster. But MH370 is different. Because while there’s been plenty of plane mishaps and disasters in the world, these days the technology is so advanced that it seems everyone knows where any plane is at any given time. You can download the FlightRadar24 app to your phone or tablet or check it online and find any plane that’s in the air, basically. However, six years ago, MH370 a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing simply vanished. It left Malaysian airspace and should’ve connected to the air traffic control at Ho Chi Minh City within moments, but never did. By the time Ho Chi Minh City noticed and contacted Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 had been dark for over 20 minutes. When it never resurfaced and was never heard from again, it was assumed it had crashed somewhere in the South China Sea, during the time when it should’ve been contacting Vietnamese traffic control. As we all know now, that wasn’t the case and the final resting place of MH370 is unknown, but guessed at roughly being somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometres off the coast of Western Australia. For some reason, the plane left its predetermined course, turned right, then banked left back almost 180 degrees the way it had came. And then flew on for another seven or so hours until it finally ran out of fuel and either crashed or was put into a controlled ditch into the ocean.

There are a lot of theories about what happened in regards to MH370 and this book lists 4-5 of the potentially most plausible ones: deliberate pilot hijack, catastrophic event that rendered the flight deck unusable, catastrophic event that rendered the crew hypoxic before they could radio for help but after they turned back and hijacking from a third party that was either successful or otherwise, depending on their motive. I think most people have made up their own minds what they think happened – for me, reading everything, watching documentaries on it, etc the one that makes the most sense is the first scenario, a deliberate action by the pilot to put the plane on a course to nowhere, for reasons unknown.

This book is very thorough, very involved and definitely does not hold back where it thinks that investigations and governments failed. In particular, the ATSB (Australian Transportation Safety Bureau) and its repeated failure to consider the fact that the plane might have been in a controlled descent when it finally hit the ocean, which would mean calculations as to where it possibly landed could be off by as much as 100 miles. They’re already looking for a needle in a haystack – discounting information means they could be looking at entirely the wrong haystack. The ATSB seem reluctant to consider such an outcome so as not to offend other nations, particularly Malaysia, in charge of the overall investigation into the crash (Australia was only in charge of the search once it was determined where the plane finally ended up, regionally speaking). This book talks to a lot of experienced pilots, people who have flown Boeing 777s for a living, who understand the mechanics of the machine, how difficult it is to perform the manoeuvre the plane did as it turned, and how it wouldn’t ever be done on autopilot. And investigators who have dealt with catastrophic loss of airplanes in other countries, planes that have out-of-control crashed into the sea and how that debris looks….versus how nothing like that was ever spotted in any part of the Indian Ocean. In one plane that crashed from height into the sea, they recovered over two million pieces of wreckage – the plane basically disintegrated. When wreckage of MH370 finally began turning up as far away as Africa, it was in relatively large portions that contained pieces that were quite intact, definitely more in line of how a plane might break up if put into the ocean in a more controlled manner, rather than simply falling out of the sky when it ran out of fuel. And if that’s true, then it explains why the multiple searches of the Indian Ocean haven’t found a single thing.

MH370 is interesting I think (and scary) because it accomplished something that shouldn’t have been possible – disappearing a Boeing 777. There were opportunities to stop this (and by ‘this’ I mean the vagueness of its final resting place and the ambiguity around the reasons for it) – if Ho Chi Minh City had contacted Kuala Lumpur sooner, if the Thai military had inquired about the plane on their radar that should definitely not have been there, if they hadn’t assumed the plane was still on its heading based on projection the plane should have been hitting that they assumed it was. I think a large portion of Malaysian Airlines expected the plane to magically still land in Beijing on time and that there’d been communications breakdown or something. By the time they figured out it had vanished, it was already thousands of miles from where it should be and with no hope of ever being saved. It may have already been in the water. No one believed that you could actually do this, that you could hijack a plane basically unnoticed and fly it wherever you want in the world and that even now, six years later (on the 8th March) the wreckage would still not be found. As it stands the search is currently not active unless they get some extra information that gives them an idea of where to look but it feels like this is a wreck that should be found. That they shouldn’t stop until they find it because only by finding it can they ever probably truly piece together what happened. It’s one that for the safety of aviation in the future, the answers need to be known.

This is a thoroughly researched piece of what is basically investigative journalism that seeks to examine the thought processes of potential scenarios and also critique the search and rescue efforts as well as the overall investigation itself. There’s definitely a lot of global politics at play here and the author has faced significant backlash from the ATSB (they refuse to talk to him, but have told his employer that he was writing articles for that they’d be happy to talk to other journalists on the same topic). He interviews a lot of really interesting people, knowledgable people who have theories based on that knowledge and their own research. I think basically, everyone is at the moment, guessing. Guessing where the plane ‘probably’ is – but some of those guesses are probably more educated than others. The ATSB based their search area on just one scenario, whilst completely ignoring another one, for the sake of diplomatic relations. But diplomatic relations probably won’t help find the plane. And if I had a loved one on board that plane, I’d want my government to try and exhaust all of the options. And yes, I know the search is hugely expensive. But governments waste money on all types of stuff that doesn’t involve deceased citizens. The most important thing seems to be: find the plane first, get the answers and then….well then deal with whatever fallout that might cause with other countries.

Will they find MH370? I hope so and I hope it’s within my lifetime. But I’m not sure it’ll be anytime soon, there probably needs to be a some sort of technology developed that allows for greater scanning of the ocean floor, so that they can scan larger areas more quickly. But I’d love to have the answers myself, so I can only imagine how desperate those connected to the flight must be to have them. If you are interested in aviation and mysteries, then I’d recommend this as a pretty thorough look at the mechanics of the flight and the aftermath. It does include a more personal touch with some quotes and interviews of Australian relatives left wondering but for me, that definitely did not feel like the focus. I found the lack of transparency from the ATSB definitely to be something I wasn’t aware of before, and actually quite concerning. This is definitely a must read for those interested in the case itself….but if you are looking for a more personal experience, then it’s possible some readers might find this a bit too dense.


Book #29 of 2020

I’m going to count this towards my 2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out. The idea is to read non-fiction books that fit in with the following categories:

1. Memoir

2. Disaster Event

3. Social Science

4. Related to an Occupation

5. History

6. Feminism

7. Psychology

8. Medical Issue

9. Nature

10. True Crime

11. Science

12. Published in 2020

And I’m going to use The Hunt For MH370 to tick off the prompt of: disaster event. Because I think the disappearance of MH370 and the failure to recover it (so far) definitely qualifies. I’ve already ticked off 2 categories, as you can see above……so this is #3. Think I will definitely end up reading more than the 6 I originally signed up for.



4 responses to “Review: The Hunt For MH370 by Ean Higgins

  1. Sounds fascinating, I hope it’s a mystery that is solved sooner rather than later, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Marg says:

    It is intriguing to think about what might have really happened to this plane.

  3. […] All The Books I Can Read shares her thoughts on The Hunt For MH370 by Ean Higgins about an aviation disaster in which a plane with 239 people on board vanished over the Indian Ocean for reasons unknown. In her review she writes “This is a thoroughly researched piece of what is basically investigative journalism that seeks to examine the thought processes of potential scenarios and also critique the search and rescue efforts as well as the overall investigation itself.” […]

  4. This is so fascinating, I hadn’t realized there was a book about it already! I watched a documentary not long ago (before taking a transatlantic flight, why oh why) about where they think the wreckage might be. It was from the Drain the Oceans series (I think that’s what it’s called?) where they simulate what the topography of that part of the ocean looks like and map out how and why they think the plane would’ve ended there. it was SO fascinating, and although pretty much any of these are completely terrifying scenarios, I might have to pick this one up. Thanks for making me aware of it, great review!!

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