MH370, Bermuda Triangle, and cannibals — greatest aviation conspiracies unveiled

MH370 is one of the greatest aviation conspiracies, and unsurprisingly, six years later, many are still obsessed with finding answers to what happened.

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 set off from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, heading for Beijing, China.

It disappeared as it passed into Vietnamese airspace, after its last contact with air traffic control around 40 minutes after takeoff.

The plane was last tracked by military radar at 2.22am after veering off course and flying across the Andaman Sea, some 230 miles northwest of Penang, Malaysia.

Despite the costliest search in aviation history, the plane has never been found, and its 239 passengers and crew are all presumed dead.

Because of the scale of the disaster, and the fact that it's hard to believe in this day and age that a passenger jet could simply disappear, MH370 has been branded as the greatest aviation mystery of all time, and has led to a number of conspiracy theories.

But it isn't the only plane mystery that has caught the public's imagination.

Here, we look at some of the greatest aviation conspiracies, from the Bermuda Triangle to passengers who turned cannibal.

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The disappearance of a packed passenger jet in an era of the internet, satellite maps, and sophisticated radar seems almost impossible.

For that reason, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has sparked a number of conspiracies all of its own.

These include the outlandish claim that MH370 was shot down by the Malaysian government.

Supporters of this theory believe the plane could have been downed during a joint military exercise, between the US and Thailand, or even that authorities believed the plane was going to be flown into Kuala Lumpur's iconic Petronas Towers in a 9/11-style terror attack.

Others believe MH370 was hijacked, possibly by terrorists, or even by pilot Zaharie Shah.

There are numerous theories as to how the plane could have been hijacked, including by lacing the passengers' tea to knock them out, or that it was flown to a secret island.

It is even claimed that MH370 was brought down by a hacker who took control of the plane from the ground through the in-flight entertainment system.

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Bermuda Triangle

This huge area of water between Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda has long been the source of conspiracies and rumours.

Over the years, dozens of planes – as well as ships – are said to have vanished in unusual circumstances in this stretch of ocean.

These include the disappearance of US Navy bomber Flight 19 on December 5, 1945, along with the aircraft sent to search for it.

A number of theories have sprung up around the Bermuda Triangle, including that technology leftover from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis is responsible for bringing down aircraft.

Other theorists, such as the author Charles Berlitz, put the mysterious disappearances down to UFOs.

More rational explanations for the disappearances have included the Gulf Stream and violent weather in the western Atlantic Ocean.

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Amelia Earhart

The American aviation pioneer disappeared on July 2, 1937, aged 39 flying over the Pacific Ocean.

Her disappearance was all the more tragic as she was attempting to fly around the world.

More recently, conspiracists have claimed she didn't die in a plane crash but was in fact captured by the Japanese.

A documentary aired on the History channel, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, argued that a photo proved Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were picked up by the Japanese military, who believed she was a spy.

But this theory was undermined after the new image was revealed to have been published in a Japanese travel brochure some years before Earhart disappeared.

Others have argued that she faked her own death, or was even abducted by aliens.

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TWA Flight 800

On July 17, 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800, a Boeing 747, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic near New York, killing all 230 on board.

Over the years, a number of different theories have sprung up as to what happened.

Some have speculated that the plane was brought down by terrorist hijackers — but the FBI said it uncovered no evidence of a criminal act in the course of its 16-month investigation.

Other theorists claim it was shot down by a US Navy vessel missile strike, and that the US government has covered it up.

But a report published in 2000 concluded that the most likely cause of the explosion was a short circuit.

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Air France Flight 447

Some five years before MH370, there was a similar, but often overlooked aviation mystery.

Early on June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared with 228 passengers and crew on board.

In the middle of the ocean, the plane vanished from radar, with no clues as to what had happened.

Eventually, the wreckage was discovered, but that wasn't the end of the mystery.

Air France investigators revealed that the plane had flown through a thunderstorm, but said it hadn't issued any distress signal.

Even stranger, the plane was one of the state-of-the-art Airbus A330-200s, which had never been involved in a fatal accident.

Some two years later, the aircraft's black boxes were recovered at the bottom of the ocean.

In July 2012, a final report was published shedding some light on what had happened.

The investigators found that the accident happened due to an obstruction of the "pitot tubes" due to ice crystal buildup.

This caused the autopilot to disengage.

It later emerged that human error was also most likely to blame.

The report revealed that the pilot had only slept one hour the previous night after spending the night in Brazil with his girlfriend.

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Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571

On October 13, 1972, a Uruguayan air force plane carrying 40 passengers and five crew disappeared while flying over the Andes.

It was presumed that everyone on board had died, but the truth that emerged was far more disturbing.

Some 72 days later, 16 survivors emerged from the frozen mountains.

It was then that it was discovered they had eaten some of the dead passengers to survive.

Their horrifying story was later turned into a film, titled "Alive", which was released in 1993.

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