THE plane wreckage that sparked a search for the doomed MH370 jet in the Cambodian jungle could be a US bomber downed during the Vietnam War, a blogger has claimed.
As helicopters fly over the area and a ground search begins, some believe the image is actually of a F-105 Thunderchief – a large fighter jet that was the primary attack aircraft of the conflict in Vietnam.
Aviation sleuth Ian Wilson claimed he found the doomed jet – which mysteriously vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 with 239 people on board – while scouring Google Maps.
But pilot and aviation blogger Simon Gunson has since claimed that it could be a Thunderchief jet.
According to The Aviationist, 382 Thunderchief aircraft were lost during the war – nearly half the total number built.
These shoot-downs included 62 non-combat losses.
Many Twitter users latched onto the new theory, with one even theorising how the military plane could have crashed, based upon the Google image: “The lack of cockpit cavity suggests this aircraft hit th[e] ground vertically in an inverted flat spin.”
At 70 metres the newly-discovered plane’s measurement is far closer to the 63.7m ofMH370’s Boeing 777-200.
The Thunderchief was only around 20m long.
There is a £53million finder’s fee for anyone who can locate the missing airliner.
It’s claimed the new sighting is in jungle around 60 miles west of capital Phnom Penh, an area air traffic controllers looked into following MH370’s disappearance.
Experts from a Chinese company have already used a space satellite to zoom in on a location in the jungle.
However, they claim there was no sign of any plane, least of all the Malaysian Airlines aircraft which has been missing since March 2014.
Now newspaper reports from China claim the company has still called for a ground search team to explore the spot of the new sighting, reports the Daily Star.
Global Times reports: ‘Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Thursday that the company will help to verify Wilson’s claim.
“However, satellite photos alone will not be conclusive, and it will take a professional search team on the ground to lay the claim to rest,” Wang said.
Images from Google Maps show the outline of a large plane – which could simply be an aircraft flying directly below the satellite which photographed it.
But video producer Wilson is convinced of his findings and says he intends to visit the site to solve one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.
He told the Daily Star: “Measuring the Google sighting, you’re looking at around 69 metres, but there looks to be a gap between the tail and the back of the plane. It’s just slightly bigger, but there’s a gap that would probably account for that.”
In July this year, the Malaysian government released the findings of their MH370 investigation admitting they still do not know what happened to the passenger jet.
Despite millions of pounds being spent to find the plane, Ian believes he has uncovered the wreckage by spending “hours” searching online.
He said: “I was on there (Google Earth), a few hours here, a few hours there. If you added it up I spent hours searching for places a plane could have gone down.
“And in the end, as you can see the place where the plane is. It is literally the greenest, darkest part you can see.”
The Bureau of Aircraft Investigations Archives told the Daily Star they could not rule out Ian’s sighting – which is dated 2018 on Google Earth.
Malaysia’s final report into the vanished flight revealed that the doomed jet was deliberately turned off course and did not rule out that it may have been hijacked by a “third party”.
A 495-page report shows the aircraft was under manual control when it deviated before plunging into the Indian Ocean.
One of the theories is that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately downed the plane in an act of murder-suicide.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN THEORIES BEHIND MH370’S DISAPPEARANCE?
- Pilot or co-pilot suicide: Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah may have intentionally downed the plan in an act of murder-suicide. The report shows the aircraft was deliberately turned off course but investigators say they found nothing irregular with Shah’s background, training and mental health. MH370 may have also been downed by the co-pilot. Fariq Abdul Hamid was on his first flight on a 777 as a fully approved first officer.
- Hijacking: Chief investigator says they cannot rule out a ‘third party’ hijacking the plane it. However, no terror group has claimed responsibility for the crash and there is no evidence that the aircraft was being controlled ‘remotely’. Also the report shows that none of the passengers had experience of flying a plane
- Fire or fumes: One theory is that transporting lithium-ion batteries could have caused the fire. These batteries, which are used in cell phones and laptops may have exploded or have been set alight. A haul of tropical fruit which was off-season could have reacted with the batteries – causing them to ignite or create hazardous fumes
- Hypoxia: Passengers and crew would have been incapacitated by an unknown hypoxia event – which is a deficiency of oxygen in the cabin. This theory claims that captain Zaharie would have been unconscious for hours.
However the report by the official safety investigation team has not assigned blame to any individuals and has not been able to determine why the plane changed course and eventually crashed – leaving the mystery unsolved.
The Malaysian government will only re-open their investigation if new evidence emerges.
Chief investigator Dr Kok Soo Chon told reporters that his team believe the Malaysian Airlines plane was under manual control and was intentionally downed.
He said: “We cannot establish if the aircraft was flown by anyone other than the pilot.”
Speaking about why the aircraft deviated thousands of miles from its course, he said: “The autopilot has to be disengaged,” reports Adelaide Now.
He continued: “It has to be on manual. We have carried out seven simulator tests, flight simulators, three at high and four at low speed and we found the turn was made indeed under a manual, not autopilot.”