Top 10 Aviation Mysteries

Script written by Richard Bush. The skies can be an enigmatic place… In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 most interesting mysteries in aviation. These are the baffling airplane stories that shocked the world, due to the puzzling circumstances surrounding the events or the uncertain fates of the individuals or aircraft involved. Just to be clear, we’re including the most interesting and shocking mysteries, even if they’ve been solved in the years since the events. Special thanks to our users Jaime Enrique Gutierrez Pérez, Raymond Louie Frilles and Sara Jason for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

Top 10 Aviation Mysteries


The skies can be an enigmatic place… Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most interesting mysteries in aviation.

These are the baffling airplane stories that shocked the world, due to the puzzling circumstances surrounding the events or the uncertain fates of the individuals or aircraft involved. Just to be clear, we’re including the most interesting and shocking mysteries, even if they’ve been solved in the years since the events.

#10: Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
March 16, 1972

Taking off in California and ultimately headed for Saigon, Vietnam, this United States Military flight was destined to relieve troops of their duty, with 96 military members and 11 civilians onboard. But 280-miles from the flight’s stopover in Guam, communications experienced heavy radio static, and after that the plane was lost. Eight days and 200-thousand square-miles of ocean later, the investigation turned up nothing, but rumors ran rampant that the flight was the victim of sabotage. All 107 onboard are presumed dead.

#9: EgyptAir Flight 990
October 31, 1999

Although the wreckage of this Cairo-bound flight was swiftly found after it crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s the cause of this spectacular incident that raises eyebrows. Since the plane went down in international waters, Egyptian authorities were responsible for investigating the 217 fatalities; they found that a mechanical failure was at fault. However, a U.S. inquiry into the same event suggested that the flight’s Egyptian copilot crashed on purpose. This finding caused a falling out between the U.S. and Egypt, which clouded the investigation even further.

#8: Air France Flight 447
June 1, 2009

On its way to Paris from Rio de Janeiro, this flight disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Although wreckage was found as early as five days later, it took almost two years to recover the plane’s black boxes and the majority of the 228 bodies of those onboard from the ocean floor. Examination revealed that ice crystals led to the disconnection of the autopilot feature, which in turn caused the pilots to accidentally stall the plane – however, that theory has been challenged.

#7: Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571
October 13, 1972 - December 23, 1972

While traveling through the Andes, this Uruguay-to-Chile flight was brought down when low clouds and disorientation caused its wings to be clipped by the mountains. With the 45 passengers presumed dead, the search was called off after just over a week. For more than two months, the plane’s location remained a mystery, lost in snow and towering mountains. Ultimately, two passengers journeyed on-foot 10-days to find civilization, and the 16 survivors were finally rescued 72-days after the crash. This thrilling story was later retold in the 1993 film, “Alive.”

#6: TWA Flight 800
July 17, 1996

This Europe-bound Boeing-747 was in the air only minutes before exploding, plunging into the Atlantic and killing the 230 people onboard. For four years, conspiracies swirled on the burgeoning internet that suggested foul play: some believed a U.S. missile test was responsible, while others said it was a meteor, and still others suggested a bomb. And eyewitnesses that claimed to’ve seen something fired at the plane did nothing to dissuade rumors. Investigations finally concluded that an electrical short-circuit caused one of aircraft’s fuel tanks to explode.

#5: Lady Be Good disappearance
April 4, 1943

After the nine-man crew of an American Bomber plane went missing on its way back to Libya during WWII, their plane and lives were thought to be lost to the Mediterranean. However, the plane actually crashed-landed in North Africa, and eight of the men survived the crash by parachuting out. Unfortunately, the remainder of the crew died after walking 100-miles through the desert. The plane’s wreckage was finally discovered surprisingly intact 15 years later by a British oil exploration team.

#4: 1947 BSAA Avro Lancastrian Star Dust accident
August 2, 1947

It was fifty years after British South American Airways airliner Star Dust and its 11 occupants vanished in the Andes on their way to Chile before their fates were revealed. Some blamed vandals, others aliens, but an extensive five-day search turned up nothing. Finally, in 1998, mountaineers discovered the wreckage after it had been buried in a glacier for decades. According to reports, the pilots were disoriented by the jet stream and accidentally crashed into the mountains.

#3: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
March 8, 2014

This Boeing 777 went missing about an hour into its flight from Malaysia to Beijing with 239 occupants onboard. With no distress calls made, two passengers on the flight traveling with stolen passports, and reports that onboard communications were deliberately disabled by someone on the aircraft, conspiracy theories surfaced suggesting mechanical breakdown, terrorism or pilot suicide. The disappearance prompted a massive search-and-rescue effort undertaken by over 20 countries through nearby bodies of water and islands, but its first weeks were fruitless.

#2: Amelia Earhart disappearance
July 2, 1937 The events that led to Earhart’s mysterious demise began in 1937 when she set out to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. On her approach to Howland Island in the Pacific, Earhart radioed that she was low on fuel and unsure of her location. Shortly after, radio contact was lost and so were Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. Did she live out her days on a deserted island? Was she a spy? Was she forced to broadcast propaganda as Tokyo Rose? We may never know.

Before our top pick takes flight, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Pan Am Flight 7, November 8, 1957
- 2003 Boeing 727-223 disappearance, May 25, 2003
- USAir Flight 427, September 8, 1994
- Faucett Airline crash, September 11, 1990
- Merpati Nusantara Airlines Flight 6715, January 10, 1995

#1: Flight 19
December 5, 1945

Five torpedo bombers were sent on a routine training exercise through the area between Florida, Puerto Rico and Bermuda; an area infamously known as the Bermuda Triangle. During their flight, radio transmissions made it clear the planes’ compasses were malfunctioning, and eventually all five planes and 14 crewmembers vanished without a trace, never to be seen again. What’s even stranger is the rescue planes sent to locate Flight 19 also went missing in the Bermuda Triangle, as did 1948’s famous Star Tiger flight and many others.

Do you agree with our list? Which aviation mystery did you find the most intriguing? For more fascinating top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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