Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

General • Possible Clues to Missing Malaysian Flight MH 370

There have been many speculations and opinions regarding the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH 370. Conspiracy theories are abundant. FREQUENT CONTRIBUTOR TO THIS COLUMN, REV. ED BERKEY (retired)has forwarded an email to us regarding a retired USAF General. Even though we have not spoken to anyone mentioned in this communication, the content does make the most sense of all the explanations offered.
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“An observation:  a retired 3-star USAF general said (on Fox News) on 18th of March that Boeing received its last ‘ping’ from the Malaysian 777, while on the ground in western Pakistan, in Taliban-controlled area, near the Afghanistan border.
     
“While flying today between Paris and New Delhi (LFPG-VIDP), we were going to fly right over that area.  When talking with Kabul Control, we were told to “OFFSET COURSE 10 NAUTICAL MILES TO THE NORTH, TO AVOID MILITARY AREA.
     
“Having flown this part of the world for the last 3.5 yrs, I have NEVER been asked to offset that much in that area, EVEN WHILE THE WAR WAS GOING ON.…I’m just sayin’…
     
“The ‘three star’ that Pat is referring to is General Tom McInerney. General McInerney has been a Fox News contributor for quite a while. He comes across to me as an intelligent, sober and connected man. He is always quite measured in his responses and I have never seen him wonder off “into the woods” by trying to make people think that he is knowledgeable about subject matter that he has little understanding of.
     
“On two occasions (that I have seen) this past week the General has stated unequivocally that the missing B-777 is ‘on the ground in western Pakistan in a Taliban controlled area’. Two days ago he publically stated on one of the Fox News programs that he had information from Boeing that the last “ping” from the aircraft had been when the aircraft was on the ground in Pakistan .
     
“The following day Boeing walked that statement back but . . . did not state that McInerney was incorrect. Last night I saw a teaser that the General was going to be on the Sean Hannity show. I normally do not watch Sean but I did want to hear what the General had to say, given his position that is clearly contrary to the story being put out by everyone else. Once again General McInerney stated . . . without equivocation, that the aircraft was on the ground in western Pakistan . Sean inquired as to his sources and that General responded that he could not divulge his sources “at this time”.
     
“Now . . . everyone on this mailing is either an accomplished pilot or crewmember. I have little doubt that this mystery has caused you to ponder the question . . . “what happened”. I have been involved in several military aircraft accident investigations and the lesson that I have learned from those experiences is to avoid speculation and let the evidence guide you to a conclusion.   
     
“Frequently things are not what they initially appear to be . . . or, as Will Rogers once mused; ‘If things were as obvious as they initially appear . . . then men would be riding horseback sidesaddle . . . and not women’.
     
“One infuriating aspect to this story is the plethora of “experts” that are dredged up by the media whose knowledge of the B-777 and of typical airline (ICAO and Domestic) procedures is . . . in a word . . . lacking. As one example . . . virtually every guest has Googled the B-777-200ER and noted that its fuel capacity is just over 45,000 gallons . . . a little over 300,000 pounds.
     
“Unfortunately, transport aircraft are not like our automobiles that we fill up completely at every fueling. There are specific requirements for fuel that include taxi fuel, climb to initial altitude fuel, cruise fuel (all corrected for wind aloft), descent fuel, approach and landing fuel . . . fuel to the alternate and reserve fuel. The sum of these will be the amount of fuel on board at ‘block out’ and that amount will be reflected on the aircraft’s Weight & Balance paperwork.
   
” I flew the B-727 for over twenty years . . .  that aircraft has a capacity of 54,000 pounds of fuel. I could count on one hand the number of times that I ever took off with 54,000 pounds in the aircraft. The issue is ‘fuel burn for the trip’. If you are carrying extra fuel (above the required fuel), you are burning extra fuel simply to carry extra fuel. So . . .
     
“THE question concerning the B-777 should be . . . how much fuel did the aircraft have at ‘block out’. If we knew that the block out fuel was (say) 220,000 pounds, then Boeing, given the profile that the aircraft flew . . . could tell you within a few miles what the maximum range of the aircraft was . . . but after almost two weeks I have not heard this issue raised by any of the “experts”
   
” Now . . . I have come to the conclusion that General McInerney very well may have found the answer . . . if for no other reason in that it can be explained by virtually every aspect of this tragedy. If the aircraft is in Pakistan , then there will be no wreckage . . . and no debris field. While the subject of ‘pilot suicide’ has been discussed, flying 2,700 miles to flame out and crash into the Indian Ocean makes little sense to me.
     
“The Egypt Air First Officer in the B-767 didn’t make it fifty miles off of the US coast! This situation certainly appears to be a well thought out criminal act . . . by somebody. Given the Captains political ‘extremism’ and the fact that his marriage was reportedly “failing” . . . that his wife and daughter moved out of their home the day before the aircraft went missing . . . this is where I’d put my chips. No one went to all of this planning and deliberation just to trash the airplane . . . you could do that with absolutely no planning whatsoever.
   
“I am also intrigued at the Israeli response. The Jerusalem paper (on line) commented that Israeli officials ‘expected to see the aircraft again’. The Israelis have also publically stated that Iran is involved and have issued NOTAMS indicating that initial contact with Israeli ATC will be moved further from her borders to permit adequate time to ‘de-louse’ (my words) any suspicious aircraft. Without question, the Israelis have the best HUMINT in that region . . . they don’t get caught sleeping often.
     
“I am of the opinion that the ‘flaw’ in the planning is the fact that the perpetrator did not realize that the SatCom system would continue to “ping” even though the systems were ‘turned off’ in the cockpit. Like our cell phones, even when we turn them off, if the sim chip has any power, the phone is communicating with the nearest cell tower. The only way to “go dark” with a cell phone is to remove the battery or allow it to completely discharge. In the case of the B-777, someone would have to find the appropriate circuit breaker(s) . . . either in the cockpit or the E&E compartment (below deck) and pull them to depowering the equipment.
   
“Interesting situation with terrifying potential. Pakistan reportedly has over 200 nuclear weapons . . . think about the possibilities . . .
     
“Here is the email from the Captain:  It is EXACTLY what I thought as soon as it was discovered that the plane made the turn.  It could not have been a hijacking at that point.  there absolutely WOULD have been some form of communication with ATC from the pilots about that.  Again, if it were a “suicide mission”, why on earth would you wait 5 hours to do it?  Besides, a hijacker always wants something… “take me to”, “we want ransom”, “we want your plane in order to destroy something”, “I want to make a political statement”, or something they feel is of value to them.
   
“I think the captain and first officer were both in on it (otherwise there would have been a fight to the death in that cockpit), and that the Malaysian government (at least some of their top officials) were also in on it.  That why there was so much “misinformation” put out on it initially and also why it took so long to ask for help from other countries (like the United States, i.e., FBI, NTSB, FAA) from assisting in the investigation. 

“Malaysia is a 4th world country with strong Muslim roots.  That is why the Malaysian government “officially” declared the aircraft “lost at sea in the Indian Ocean ” without a single trace of any evidence.  The only “real” evidence of what happened will likely be found somewhere in (or enroute to) Israel someday in the future.
     
“I’d bet my life that the 777 is on the ground, ready to fly, in some country that’s name ends in “-istan”.  There is little doubt in my mind what was done with all the passengers when they arrived, and what the ultimate plan is for the aircraft.  I’m not sure that I would want to tour the ” Holy Land ” between now and the end of the year!
     
“Very sad, very scary, and “our” illustrious “leader” has his head in the usual location on this, too!”

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