The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 baffles experts. Courtesy: FOX News
THERE were glimmers of hope in news reports yesterday about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which has been missing since Saturday.
Vietnamese authorities scrambled to investigate reports of a "yellow object" in the Gulf of Thailand, with speculation it could be a liferaft.
It wasn't to be. Officials said the object was just the "moss-covered cap of a cable reel".
Since the flight vanished there have been many comparisons to the Air France Flight 447 catastrophe, which claimed 228 lives after it plunged into the ocean in 2009.
But there could still be some reason to hope for the passengers and crew of Flight MH370, according to aviation experts, even if the chances become smaller each day.
While it is "very odd" MH370 has vanished without any communication or sign of wreckage, UNSW aviation Professor Jason Middleton said people could survive an ocean landing if the aeroplane glided onto the water and passengers managed to board life rafts.
There have been several incidents in recent years where hundreds of lucky souls have clambered from the wrecks of aircraft. These are their stories.
THEY CALLED HER 'LA MIRACULEE'
Sole survivor: Bahia Bakari, 13. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
One moment Bahia Bakari, 14, was fastening her seatbelt on board a trembling Airbus en route to the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Next, she was no longer on board Yemenia Flight 626 but bobbing in the ocean, clinging to a piece of plane wreckage in the cold black sea.
Bakari was the lone survivor of an incident on June 30, 2009 when 152 were killed when the aircraft stalled while attempting to land.
According to an account from her ghostwritten book, released in 2009, Bakari remembers gasping for air in the ocean late at night.
She managed to lie on top of a large chunk of wreckage. The teenager heard voices and tried to guide her makeshift raft towards them but could not see anyone.
Thirteen hours after the plane fell out of the sky, she was rescued by a fisherman and brought onto his boat.
Survivor: Bahia Bakari, 13, lies on her bed at the Moroni hospital on July 1, 2009. Picture: AFP Source: News Limited
It was not until she arrived onshore that she fully understood what had happened.
"I began to understand the atrocious reality," she recounted. "I was not the only one to fall from the plane."
"All of the passengers, the pilot, the crew, had fallen from the plane. Mummy, she fell from the plane too, like me, perhaps right next to me."
Her mother's body was one of 84 later recovered from the ocean.
ENGINES FALLING FROM THE SKY
On the ground: Captain Richard de Crespigny after his Qantas Airbus suffered catastrophic engine explosion. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
A piece of shrapnel tore through the roof of an Indonesian classroom, landing next to a five-year-old boy at his desk.
It was shortly after 10am Singaporean time on November 4, 2010 and Qantas Flight 32 was falling apart in the sky above Batam island.
There were 440 passengers and some 29 crew on board the double-decker Airbus A380, piloted by Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny.
The two-year-old plane's number two engine exploded moments after the Airbus lifted off.
The city of Batam was littered with debris from Qantas Flight 32. Picture: News Corp Australia Source: Supplied
Shrapnel from the explosion damaged essential systems of the plane — including the brakes, other engines and fuel tank.
It could have been a catastrophe, but Captain de Crespigny and his crew immediately tried to troubleshoot what was going on.
Which, according to Prof Middleton, is exactly what a pilot is trained to do. "It was a marvellously successful response," he said.
Captain de Crespigny (right), with his son Alexander and an unidentified person in an undated photo. Picture: Supplied Source: News Limited
After more than an hour-and-a-half in a holding pattern above Changi Airport, the plane came in for a "very fast landing" — bleeding fuel in the sky, an engine ablaze.
The aircraft's first officer, Matt Hicks, later told Four Corners of the damage done to the brakes.
"I said (to the Captain) 'brakes, you know brakes', and he said, 'I am', and I said 'no, get into it' and he said, 'I am' and I put my foot up, feet up on the pedals to make sure he did have his feet flat to the floor and they were, there was nothing left there."
But even after the flight successfully landed at Changi, surrounded by fire trucks, the ordeal was not over yet.
One of the engines would not shut down. It was an hour before passengers were allowed off plane out of fear the plane would be go up in the flames.
The plane was not in a good state, but no one was injured.
MIRACLE IN NEW YORK
Hero: Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III was the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 which crashed into the Hudson River on January 15. Picture: AP Source: AP
It could have been a disaster right in the middle of the world's most recognisable city.
Instead what happened on January 15, 2009 is now remembered as the "miracle on the Hudson".
US Airways Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and his crew were hailed as heroes when they successfully ditched an Airbus A319 into New York's Hudson River.
Flight 1549, which was carrying 155 passengers and crew, lost power in both engines less than two minutes after it took off from LaGuardia Airport.
The damage was caused by several Canada geese struck who were "ingested" into either engine.
Wingspan: Survivors huddle on the wings of the downed US Airways Airbus 320 jetliners. Picture: AFP Source: News Limited
Horrified witnesses watched from office buildings as the flight cleared a nearby bridge by little more than a kilometre in altitude and, thankfully, descended gradually into the water.
"It was a great landing," passenger Fred Berretta told CNN. "It was quite stunning". All but a few escaped uninjured.
As Prof Middleton put it, "A lot of people didn't even get their feet wet."