MH370: Flight into eternity


MH370. Modern aviation, and the world at large, will forever remember this fateful identifier.

It began just like any other scheduled flight. Passengers awkwardly moving down the crowded aisles, looking for their allocated seats. Here, the clatter of the overhead compartment as people stow their belongings away. There, the nervous laughter of those not so keen on flying as they fumble with their seat belts and try to settle for a long night flight. Hidden from view, an air hostess hurriedly dusts off her uniform while one of her colleagues checks the passenger manifest. The long cabin bustles with activity.

Locked away in the cockpit, the flight crew preps the aircraft for departure.

The Boeing 777, callsign MAS370, slowly hums into life as systems are initialized and pre-flight checklists are thoroughly completed. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah will be flying the aircraft tonight. He is a seasoned aviator, a keen flight enthusiast with over 18,000 flying hours to his name. Zaharie’s First Officer in tonight’s flight is 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid. With just over 2,000 flying hours, this is Hamid’s first flight as a fully qualified first officer in a Boeing 777.

MH370 is scheduled to depart Kuala Lumpur International Airport after midnight, March 08.

As the aircraft taxies down the runway, the lights of the terminal become momentarily brighter, as the plane’s taxi lights are switched off to avoid distracting any pilot attempting to land.

‘MH370, permitted for take off’, the air traffic controller announces. ‘Good night.’

‘MH370 copies that. Thank you, and goodbye.’

Zaharie opens up the throttles and the aircraft obediently and rapidly picks up speed. As it thunders down the runway, the passengers within watch the world outside become a blur. They will never see dry land again.

The aircraft reaches take off speed and the captain pulls back on the control column. The Boeing rotates, and for a fleeting moment, gravity fights to maintain its hold on this man made artefact. The machine’s raw power trounces nature however, and the aircraft neatly leaves the ground, initiating its final ascent into the skies. It’s 0:41 local time.

Inside, the passengers prepare to sleep, or perhaps listen to some relaxing music, or read their favourite best seller. 239 souls in total travel in this state of the art aircraft. 239 people, from 13 different countries, all blissfully unaware of the drama that would shortly unfold, unaware of the events that would turn this normal, scheduled flight out of Malaysia tonight into one of the biggest mysteries of modern aviation.

MH370 would vanish less than an hour later. The plane reached its cruising altitude at 35,000 feet, and then communications were disabled, either accidentally or intentionally. Only time will tell.

The aircraft veered off course and flew into history, carrying its human cargo into eternity.

The Irish Bank Guarantee: A night of infamy


It’s now one hour to midnight. Sixty minutes to destiny.

It’s the last night of September, 2008. On this night, Government Buildings play silent witness to the unravelling of Irish history. The drama unfolds as the citizenry prepares for bed. The main players in this tragedy scuttle about shrouded by darkening skies, as if the absence of light somehow justifies their impending act of financial treason.

Now it’s 30 minutes to the end of times. Time ticks down fast and hard. The blade of fate is about to thunder down on the nation’s neck.

It’s a cold night outside, about 3 degrees. Even the weather is unkind tonight. Yet, nature holds no grudges against the country’s population, nor does it have any hidden agenda, unlike the characters who, acting purely upon their own selfish instincts of self preservation are about to demolish the hopes of an entire nation and lay waste to a whole generation of Irish.

Ten minutes to the threshold of madness. 600 seconds.

Things happen faster now. The players of Ireland’s ill thought out financial final solution gather around the table, and talk.

It is now two weeks earlier. Lehman Brothers bank, once a mighty titan, spectacularly collapses and goes bankrupt. Nobody expected this to happen, nor had it even been considered by anyone as a possible outcome. At the other side of the Atlantic, Anglo Irish Employees watch their Lehman colleagues hurriedly exit the building carrying their belongings inside cardboard boxes. The writing is on the wall.

Around the table, a cabal of bankers and government representatives discuss the half truths and outright lies of a banking system that has reached critical mass. An unstoppable chain reaction is about to take hold of the country’s financial pipework, its momentum reaching terminal velocity in a matter of minutes.

It is 2007. The so called credit crunch. Irish banks have lent beyond deposits taken and their liquidity has evaporated. The void within the system grows larger with every passing day. The issue of Irish banking turns into a poisoned chalice, and soon we will all be satiated from it.

The traitors talk, because that’s what traitors do. The traitors also lay blame on others, and assume no responsibility for the government-sanctioned piece of abhorrent legislation christened as the Bank Guarantee. It’s just what must be done to safeguard the soundness of Irish banking. Within five minutes, they will rubber stamp a nation’s generational burden of around €64 billion. The financial death knell for Ireland is about to toll loudly from within Government Buildings.

It is now September 29, 2008. 24 hours before the end of days. Two well known players of the Irish financial landscape, Sean Fitzpatrick and David Drumm, scuttle about Dublin’s city centre calling at doors behind which they know money is plentiful. It’s cash they’re after, plain and simple. During the month of September, ever since those Lehman employees streamed out of a fallen giant, Anglo Irish Bank has been hemorraghing deposits to the tune of €1 billion a day. The bank’s shares are next to worthless, having lost about 46 percent of their former value. If money is not found pronto, the jig is up in two days’ time at best. This is a last ditch attempt to save an apostate idol.

Fitzpatrick and Drumm enter and exit these financial institutions via back entrances. There is no fanfare or red carpet receptions. An outside spectator could be forgiven for thinking they were the fax machine repair guys. Yet, these people’s one track mind deviated not from their one and only desire; money, and fast.

And yet, their requests are politely turned down, first by Bank of Ireland, then AIB, and finally by Irish Life & Permanent. Anglo’s lack of liquidity and inability to offer collaterals are quoted as reasons for this denial. The thwarted and deposed kings are pushed against a wall with nowhere to go. Hopes of a last minute solution to Anglo’s monumental debacle vanish into the ether. The fate of a nation has been sealed.

The meeting at Government Buildings is in full swing now. Beside Fitzpatrick and Drumm, representatives from Bank of Ireland and AIB are also in attendance. There is no time for niceties, nor there is time to consider the ramifications that a wholesale bank guarantee will have on the Irish nation. All there is time for is getting the Government to cough up the dough, and take an Everest-size pile of private debt off their backs and politely mount it on the saddle of the Irish peoples as a whole. In a well-rehearsed pharisaic act, the bankers lay their demands in front of the purse holders.

It is now two minutes to midnight. One hundred and twenty seconds upon which the future of Ireland rides headlong into darkness.

The bankers end their exposition. If the money is not forthcoming, the Irish banking system will face the business end of the financial Grim Reaper’s scythe in a matter of days. They must act. Now. And guarantee every last unsecured penny in circulation.

It’s one minute to midnight now. The detonation of the Bank Guarantee nuclear device is imminent. The seventh seal is about to be broken, and a cohort of angels shall blow their trumpets one after the other. Like Abbadon, the Irish Government shall hail a far-reaching, nationwide plague of financial pestilence.

It is now six years since the Doomsday clock struck midnight. The hands of time stir the ashes of their vengeance…