My Take On “MH370: The Plane That Disappeared”

A few days ago, Netflix released a show about the disappearance of MH370. I just got done watching this series, so I wanted to first recap the basics, and then share my take, as I have mixed feelings.

Netflix show about disappearance of MH370

Arguably the greatest mystery in modern aviation is the disappearance of flight MH370. In March 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people onboard went missing while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. This has been the source of a lot of theories and speculation over the years, and a new Netflix show is tackling that topic once again.

The “speculative docuseries” was released on March 8, 2023, and contains interviews with family members, scientists, and investigative journalists. This is a three part series:

  • The first episode takes a close look into the hours and days following the plane’s disappearance, including what happened when conspiracy theories and false accusations started to spiral out of control
  • The second episode discusses how the chances of two aircraft from the same airline crashing just months apart (as MH17 also crashed a few months later) is infinitesimal, causing conspiracy theories to go even further
  • The third episode explores how after extensive searches, there are questions of whether the wreckage found off the East African coast is in fact from MH370, as families and some journalists are skeptical

You can see the trailer for yourself below.

My take on Netlix’s MH370 show

Let me start by saying that I like watching just about any sort of crime or mystery show on Netflix, and when there’s an aviation angle, I’m even more interested than usual.

Admittedly one of the challenges with many Netflix documentaries is that they’re painfully drawn out, given that success is measured by minutes watched, rather than total number of viewers. That gives producers a big incentive to make shows longer than they need to be.

With that in mind, I didn’t get bored with this show, and while it was long, it didn’t linger on any one topic for too long, perhaps to a fault.

Let me share a few of my key takeaways…

A lot of air time is given to conspiracy theories

The series definitely gives a lot of attention to MH370 conspiracy theories:

  • One theory is that the plane was hijacked by Russians, who entered the electronics bay, took control of the aircraft, and then eventually crashed it, all to distract the world from Russia’s invasion of Crimea
  • Another theory is that the plane was shot down by the United States because of the cargo it was carrying to China, after military aircraft disabled MH370’s communications systems
  • The series calls into question a lot of the sources of information, like the guy who somehow just randomly finds all the debris in the South Indian Ocean, which sure seems a bit suspicious; there are questions of what his links are to Russia

The problem is, all these theories are presented, but they all seem a little half baked in terms of the details that are shared. In other words, they walk through the possible scenarios, without actually addressing a lot of the logical follow-up questions people would have.

Are these theories really that outlandish?

A lot of people are calling this series reckless, and are saying it gives way too much air time to conspiracy theories. I totally get that, but honestly, is the prevailing theory about what happened any less wild?

That theory is that the captain essentially hijacked the plane, depressurized the cabin to kill everyone onboard, tried to evade radar by making some turns, and then flew the 777 for six to seven hours until it ran out of fuel. I’m not saying that couldn’t have happened (and I agree that it’s the most likely theory), but isn’t this objectively totally preposterous, and even unsubstantiated?

We’ve seen some pilots commit murder-suicide before, but typically they just fly the plane into the ground. Are we to believe that the captain made a huge game of this, flying the plane for hours and hours in order to never be found again? And if the captain really viewed this as a game (which would make him a very sick human being), wouldn’t he have made even more of a game of this, and left some interesting notes or hints? Wouldn’t there have been some reasonable theory as to his motives?

With almost every other pilot suicide we’ve seen, there has been a very clear trail of what lead to that, from bankruptcy, to life insurance policies, to a history of depression. That’s really not the case here.

My point is that there’s literally no evidence pointing to the captain having done this, and I don’t think anyone can honestly argue that this is definitively what happened, beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, conspiracy theories aren’t as wild as they’d otherwise be when the prevailing belief about the incident also sounds a whole lot like a conspiracy theory.

For that reason, I was also disappointed that the series didn’t spend more time covering the theory about the pilot. How much time was collectively spent talking about the captain’s background? Maybe a minute? I feel like that’s a real missed opportunity…

There are some characters on the show

I appreciated the wide variety of people who were interviewed for the show, from families of the victims, to aircraft accident investigators. However, there are also a lot of more questionable characters being interviewed. I think perhaps they’re overly being presented as experts, when in reality they’re more along the lines of Facebook sleuths (which, there’s value to that, but…).

There were definitely some interviews in the series that I think are worth taking with a grain of salt. I wish there had been more questions with the actual experts (experienced 777 captains, the aircraft accident investigator, etc.), to hash out how exactly the captain could have done this.

Bottom line

A new Netflix series about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has now been released. I just finished watching this, and it was certainly a captivating show to watch. However, just be aware that it spends a lot of time focused on conspiracy theories, while many of the obvious flaws with these theories aren’t addressed.

Then again, when there really is no evidence, and when the prevailing theory is that this was a mass murder-suicide with no evidence, is there anything that shouldn’t be examined?

Are you going to be watching this show about MH370? If you have the chance to watch, please share your thoughts!

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