Without a trace: Mysterious aviation disappearances

Without a trace: a look at mysterious aviation disappearances
In this FILE photos, Amelia Earhart stands June 14, 1928 in front of her bi-plane called 'Friendship' in Newfoundland. Getty Images

TORONTO – Search and rescue crews continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared a few days ago with 239 aboard, including two Canadians.

It took two years to find the main wreckage of an Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, while it took a week for debris from an Indonesian jet to be spotted in 2007. Today, the mostly intact fuselage still sits on the bottom of the ocean.

Flight MH370 is not the first plane to fly off the radar. Since the start of the jet age in 1958, only a handful of jets have gone missing and not been found.

We take a glimpse at some of the most bizarre and strange aircraft disappearances:

Boeing 727-223 – disappeared in 2002

On May 25, 2003, a Boeing 727-223 took off from Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, Luanda, Angola.

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The owners of the plane had numerous financial problems and one day, just before sunset, the plane took off without clearance and with its transponder turned off.   Shortly after take-off, any sign of the plane vanished.

While the incident caused an intensive investigation by U.S. intelligence agencies, the plane was never found.

Ben Charles Padilla, an aircraft mechanic, was believed to be at the controls when the plane was stolen.  U.S. officials do not believe Padilla was part of any wrongdoing involving the aircraft. He has not been seen or heard from since.

It is believed to have crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. One theory, never proven, is that it was stolen so the owner could collect insurance.

British South American Airways Star Tiger – disappeared in 1948

While on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda, on Jan. 20, 1948, a four-engine aircraft disappeared without a trace.

All 31 passengers and crew, including British war hero Sir Arthur Coningham, were never found and presumed to be dead.

Star Ariel – disappeared in 1949

In 1949, Star Ariel flight departed Bermuda and was bound for Jamaica. Despite a search involving more than 70 aircrafts, no signs of debris, oil slicks or the wreckage were discovered.

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Flying Tiger Line Flights 739 – disappeared in 1962

On March 16, 1962, a military Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation prop plane took off from Guam en route to the Philippines. The plane disappeared over the western Pacific Ocean. No distress call was ever issued. The wreckage was never recovered.

All 107 aboard were declared missing and presumed dead.

Glenn Miller – disappeared in 1944

To date, the fascination around what happened to American band leader and jazz trombonist Alton Glenn Miller endures.

With over 70 Top 10 albums in four years, the famous Glenn Miller Orchestra sold over a million records.

On Dec. 15, 1944, Miller was set to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris. The plane went missing, and no trace of the crew or its passengers were ever found.

Miller is still deemed “missing in action.”

Amelia Earhart – disappeared in 1937

It’s one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries: what exactly happened to famed American aviator Amelia Earhart?

On July 2, 1937, Earhart and her navigator Frederick Noonan vanished over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first around-the-world flight along the equator.

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Many researchers assume Earhart and Noonan became lost at sea and the aircraft ran out of fuel.

Toronto Maple Leaf player Bill Barilko – disappeared in 1951

Although the remains of Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman Bill Barilko were eventually found after his tragic death, the legend around Barilko’s life continues to live on and even served as the inspiration for the Tragically Hip’s song “Fifty-Mission Cap.”

After scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1951, Barilko went on a summer fishing trip to northern Ontario.  En-route home to Timmins, Ont., the 24-year-old’s plane crashed.  Despite a massive search and rescue for any sign of Barilko or his plane, neither were discovered until 1962.

Despite their quest for another Stanley Cup win, the Leafs went on to suffer a losing streak for 11 years.  A mere six weeks later after winning the cup, Barilko’s plane wreckage was found hidden in a dense forest on June 7, 1962, with the skeletal remains of Barilko and pilot Henry Hudson still strapped into their seats.

With files from The Associated Press