January INP Post #2: Visual Representation of the Mystery of the Century

I recently finished reading the book Flight MH370: The Mystery by Nigel Cawthorne. As the title suggests, it illustrates the “mystery of the century” regarding the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared on 8 March 2014. In this insightful book, Nigel Cawthorne provides a plethora of facts about the event that has confounded flight analysts and NTSB officials for almost two years, as of now. Along the way, Cawthorne also provides his own analysis and theories gathered from some of the world’s top experts in aircraft accidents. After finishing this book, I put together a visual representation of the facts, with symbols representing major aspects of the mystery.


Representation of MH370


First off, the dark and gloomy backdrop of the sea and the sky represents the sadness of the event, which involved the disappearance of 227 passengers. Also, the fact that the mystery is still unsolved is another meaning of the dark setting, being shrouded in an atmosphere of uncertainty. The plane silhouette in the centre represents the ill-fated plane, as it plunges into the dark depths of the ocean. The question mark to the left represents how the plane’s disappearance has bamboozled all of the world’s flight analysts, as the search for the plane has been going on for nearly two years with minimal success. The stopwatch on the top right corner represents two aspects: the first one is how the time was running out for search and rescue teams to locate the black boxes of the plane, which had a 30 day battery life for sending out signals from a beacon. Alas, this deadline has been reached long ago, leaving the teams looking for the wreckage searching blind in the vast expanse of ocean. The second aspect it represents is how the time is dragging on, as to the family members and friends of those aboard the flight, the longer they are stuck in unknowing, the more agonising it is.

The investigator staring into his clipboard with a pencil to his chin illustrates how many people have tried to solve the mystery, and how they are still struggling to come up with a valid conclusion based on the limited evidence. He seems to protrude from the dark depths of the water, as everyone investigating this peculiar incident is swamped waist-deep in uncertainty, lack of information, and rapidly drying funds to recover more evidence. Finally, the ship equipped with sonar on the right represents all the efforts that are being made to find the wreckage, and the black triangle of the sonar represents the futility of search efforts so far: all they’ve come up with were a few ancient shipwrecks, but they are mostly in the dark of what really happened aboard the final moments of MH370 and its current whereabouts.

The overall mood I intended to set with the image is a somber one filled with gloom. The colours I chose to use were all dark, and the silhouette concept was selected because the entire world was in the dark of the flight and everyone on it. After reading this book, I felt immense sorrow for the loved ones of all those aboard the plane, now knowing how deprived they were of much-needed information. I also felt outrage that this mystery has not been solved yet, as in an age of constant surveillance, it seems extremely unlikely that a plane the size of a football field could simply vanish without being found for almost 2 years. This book has let me contemplate many new theories I never read before, and it was a process I greatly enjoyed.

One note before I end: If you are someone who is afraid of flying, this is not the book for you.