At least, not yet.
I hope that someday we’ll learn enough to make sense of it. But I’m beginning to wonder if that day will ever happen. Or if we’ll ever get a straight story on it from the authorities.
In the meantime, we weave speculative tales about it in an effort, probably vain, to make as much sense of it as we possibly can with the limited amount of information we have so far.
I’ve been writing about this story on a daily basis because it’s unusually gripping, with all the elements of a Tom Clancy novel except the author’s explication, or the pleasure of knowing it’s just a story. This is a story, but not just a story; it’s reality, unfortunately for the passengers, their families, and the rest of us. Just as 9/11 was a revelation about what was possible with a bunch of determined and planful terrorists, so Flight 370 is a revelation about how a flight can go missing in real time without a whole lot known about it, if certain human agents (which it appears were responsible) want it to disappear.
Here’s my best theory of the moment. It goes almost without saying that this is pure speculation, but it’s speculation based on the “facts” as best we know them:
I don’t think the cockpit was breached by a stranger, although that is certainly possible. It would help to know whether the 777 had a locked cockpit door; I haven’t seen that information offered anywhere. I think that one of the pilots (most likely the younger one, who was only 27) caught the other completely off-guard and disabled or killed him. But whether it was one of the actual pilots or an outsider, it would have to have been someone who was very familiar with this type of plane and how to turn off its feedback systems.
Once alone, the pilot was able to act as he wished without being observed. He proceeded to turn off the transponder and other systems and fly the plane according to a preconceived plan, which probably did not involve crashing it. The passengers would have been, quite literally, in the dark. Especially with a locked door, they would have noticed nothing. It was night, after all, and most were probably sleeping. They were flying over a relatively unsettled area with few lights, so why would anyone have noticed a diversion, even if it went on for many hours? When they looked out the windows, they would have seen darkness either way.
Whether the perpetrator succeeded in his plan I do not know, nor do I know what the ultimate goal was, although you can be fairly sure it was a bad one, and probably involved other people on the ground. Was his destination a country, or a remote landing strip? Did it involve further weaponizing the plane, holding the passengers hostage, or something else?
If he succeeded, we will probably learn in time, although what we learn will be even more disturbing than what we already know. Possibly even catastrophic. Alternatively, he crashed (most likely by accident) and we may or may not ever recover the plane’s wreckage, the finding of which could give us many more clues as to what happened.
A week ago I would have considered the above a wild fantasy, and I probably would not have entertained it. Things have changed, and truth may have become even stranger than fiction.
[ADDENDUM: Newer information here. The gist of it is that the plane's new flight path was " a commonly used navigational route." That indicates a non-rogue pilot to me. Of course, the actual pilot might have been placed under duress by a highjacker.]