It may well be time to officially enroll Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 into the annals of great mysteries of aviation history. At least for the time being.
The baffling and increasingly suspicious disappearance of a Boeing 777 with 239 passengers and crew on board certainly ranks up there with the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot in the South Pacific and the dramatic 1971 parachuting disappearance of hijacker D.B. Cooper and $200,000 somewhere over Oregon.
There have been many others, of course, but these two cases are high-profile ones that remain morbidly fascinating mysteries today. It seems more and more possible that Flight 370 could become such an enigma.
Now, a full 11 days after the disappearance of the airliner, the Malaysian government has finally admitted what has been painfully obvious to even the most unsophisticated observers for a while: it needs help, lots of help. It has finally begun to accept aid from the many intelligence and investigative agencies -- including the FBI -- that have consistently offered it.
Malaysian government officials said this week that because of the size of the search area other countries must begin to take leading roles in searching for the lost flight.
An enormous search grid has been established containing 14 sections. The Malaysians said they have enlisted Indonesia, Australia, China and Kazakhstan, among others, to coordinate the efforts in some of those areas. The governments in Japan and India have said they, too, stand ready to help.
The U.S. and New Zealand will team with the Australians to search the southernmost portion of the grid, which is about 230,000 square miles, or only slightly smaller than the size of Texas. .
Yikes, and that is only one of 14 sections. Clearly, the task as hand is enormous, but it is the area that experts feel is the most likely course for the plane.
Meanwhile Tuesday, the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia said that Beijing had cleared its 153 citizens on the flight of being able to seize the plane, determining that they had no terrorist ties or indications of instability.
It is unclear to us just how the Chinese government can be so certain, but it is consistent with most pronouncements from China. Right or wrong, the Beijing government is nearly always certain.
Unfortunately, in this case, very little has been certain from its inception. In fact, the only certainty that we can discern is the unbearable anguish being felt by the families and friends of the people who were onboard the aircraft.
Our hearts go out to them and, for their sake as well as our own, we can only hope that Flight 370 does not become the most mysterious of all aviation tragedies.