While doubt has been cast on reports of plane wreckage containing human skeletons lying in remote jungle on an island in the Philippines – the possibility now arises that the wreckage may be that of a large passenger aircraft that crashed in the area 53 years ago.
Newspapers and websites around the world, including in Australia, Britain, Europe and the US, have speculated that the wreck in the Philippines might be missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared last year. A report published by London’s Daily Express newspaper at the weekend quoted those who discovered the wreckage saying it bore a Malaysian flag and Malaysia Airlines livery.
In the cockpit, skeletal remains were said to be seated in the pilot’s chair with the seatbelt fastened. See: Shock MH370 development: ‘Skeleton found in cockpit’
Philippine authorities dispatched a gunboat to help look for the wreckage, but a search was reported to have found nothing. Doubts have been cast on the credibility of a witness who made the initial report to the police.
“There was someone who was spreading that story but it has no truth to it and the person spreading it has disappeared,” a local police chief told news agency AFP.
Some reports said a single skeleton had been found sitting in the plane’s cockpit, seatbelt fastened and wearing radio communication equipment. Other reports went further and spoke of a skeleton crew and a whole planeload of skeletons.
“We deployed a gunboat there because of the news,” said Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo of the Philippines Navy.
“We interviewed the people at the Sugbay Island, the fishermen, but they have no knowledge about it.”
Although the search for the mysterious plane and its skeletons has been called off for the meantime, another intriguing possibility has arisen. In his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au, aviation reporter Ben Sandilands wonders whether the wreckage (if it exists) might be that of Flying Tiger Line flight 739, a Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation chartered by the US military that disappeared on 16 March 1962.
Flying Tiger Line flight 739 was transporting 93 US soldiers and three South Vietnamese from Travis Air Force Base, California to Saigon, Vietnam, via the Philippines. After refuelling at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the Super Constellation was en route to Clark Air Base in the Philippines when it disappeared. All 107 aboard were declared missing and presumed dead.
The airliner’s disappearance prompted one of the largest air and sea searches in the history of the Pacific.
Until Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished last year, Flying Tiger Line flight 739 was the biggest missing passenger airliner in history.
Written by Peter Needham