March 8, 2015 marks one year of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. It marks a year of agony and futile attempts to locate the ill-fated aircraft that vanished without a trace in the wee hours of March 8, 2014.
The Boeing 777 was carrying 239 people on-board and was only about an hour into its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when the air traffic controller lost signals from the aircraft.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months; there was no clue on what exactly happened to the wide-bodied jumbo jet. Rescue operators were desperately trying for leads merely with the help of some 'pings' emanating from the British company's Inmarset's satellite which gave forth the theory that the plane followed a complicated trajectory to ultimately end its journey somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.
Uncertainty over what may have happened to the aircraft triggered a spate of conspiracy theories with flabbergasted members of the public attempting to understand what exactly might have happened to MH370. As is the case with any conspiracy theory, however, most of them were bizarre and eerie, while few of them, outright outlandish.
Let us take a look at the top 5 most interesting theories that did the rounds until the run up to first anniversary of the mystifying disappearance, dubbed as the biggest aviation mystery of the century.
Vladimir Putin Ordered the Plane to be Stolen
As outrageous as it might sound, nothing deterred a US-based science writer named Jeff Wish to come up with this extraordinary theory claiming the jet was 'stolen' on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The writer, who was also part of CNN's team of analysts and an aviation expert said in his blog that hijackers, who were possibly inside the plane – and were Russians – 'spoofed' the plane's navigation data to make it appear like the flight MH370 went in a particular direction, though in reality, the jet was flown to Baikonur Cosmodrome, a high profile operational space launch facility leased by the Kazakh government to Russia till 2050.
America Shot Down MH370
Another equally outlandish theory was put forth by a man called John Chuckman, a former oil company executive-turned-author, suggesting that America could have shot down MH370, and possibly tried to cover it up.
"Could it be that the United States shot down Flight MH370, either accidentally or deliberately, and now wants to keep it secret?" Chuckman wrote in Opednews.com sometime in the aftermath of the disappearance. "The possibility of recovery of the full wreckage, even if its location were found, from 4 miles under the sea amongst underwater mountains is extremely remote at best, so the United States can remain confident that physical evidence will never emerge.
"There would be nothing unprecedented in such an act: on at least 3 occasions, regrettably, America's military has shot down civilian airliners, only admitting eventually to the one they could not hide," he wrote.
Unable to land on a scarier theory, a bunch of people propounded that the lack of explanation to the incident could only mean that aliens may have had some role to play in it. Frenzied public waiting for an answer after bizarre details emerged on how the flight simply vanished into thin air.
"Since 1947 our Government has been lying to us about aliens. Everyone sees them, UFOs are everywhere, in every nation. They are a threat to our sovereignty as a nation and as a world," read an article in National Report, which was then widely cited in the social media.
"Now a whole entire airplane has vanished into thin air."
Others simply carried on with similar claims.
'Hijacked Plane landed in Afghanistan'
Nearly a month after the plane vanished, Russian intelligence sources reportedly claimed that all passengers and crew members aboard the missing Malaysian Flight MH370 were alive and the plane was, in fact, hijacked and flown to Afghanistan.
A source in Russian's FSB secret service reportedly said that the plane was hijacked and flown close to the Afghan-Pakistan border and all people aboard the plane are currently held hostage.
The intelligence source provided the data to a correspondent of a Russian newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets.
There were also some claims that the plane could have been diverted to Diego Garcia Island, a part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. The US Navy operates naval Support Facility on the island and is often thought to have staged covert and high-profile secret operations in that location.
The theory gained traction after witnesses in the Maldives, the nearest islands to Diego Garcia located about 500 kilometres to the north, claimed that they saw "a huge plane flying at a really low altitude" with Malaysian Airlines colours. The witnesses had indeed indicated at that time that the plane was flying towards the US military base in Diego Garcia.