Mark Swint

MH 370 – A Few Educated Thoughts

In airline_crash, current events, global warming, government, media, media manipulation, news media, social engineering, Uncategorized on March 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Oculus book cover

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by Mark Swint

It has been just over a year now since the disappearance of Malaysia flight MH-370 somewhere in Southeast Asia or over the Indian Ocean. Like the rest of you I have watched with avid curiosity waiting for one of commercial aviation’s greatest mysteries to unfold. Alas, it hasn’t and now it seems destined to go down in history as one of aviation’s greatest UNSOLVED mysteries. So, as a Boeing 777 Captain and as a commercial pilot who regularly flies over that portion of the world I think it is time for me to throw my thoughts into the ring.

As with all other media reporting of aviation events and disasters, the reporting and the conjecture on the fate of MH-370 was like chalk on a fingernail board – wait! – nevermind. You know what I mean. That sounds silly but no sillier than some of the things I heard ‘experts’ say on TV. In fairness to them I must admit or at least allow that maybe they were under some sort of constraints as to what they might say publically. I say this because some elements of this event were not nearly so mysterious as the reporting made it sound. Now, as I go through these points please remember that I currently fly 777s  and I know well how they work. I know what they are capable of and what they cannot do by themselves. One thing they cannot do is ‘go walkabout’ for six and a half hours wandering around the Indian Ocean, though that is what the media would have you believe. Let me explain how this works.

Airspace around the world is highly regulated and controlled. As the air traffic has increased over the years the need to reduce separation between airplanes became more and more necessary. To that end, the performance of airplane systems was tightened up and the requirement that the plane always be on autopilot at and above 29,000 was put in place. Now the autopilot (Actually there are three on the 777) is very good, even able to make remarkably good landings in very bad weather. Coupled with the autopilot is an extremely accurate GPS based navigation system that can keep the plane on a track no wider than a few feet all the way across the Pacific. Before the plane ever leaves the gate the pilots have entered the entire route for the trip into the navigation units and have verified the waypoints, distances, headings etc. Once airborne and on their way, and during the climb, the pilot flying engages the autopilot and from that point until the top of the descent the pilot’s s job is to monitor aircraft performance and navigation and to modify as required or directed by air traffic control and as weather might dictate. Otherwise, the plane flies blissfully along as the preprogrammed computers were tasked to do.

One of the things that pilots do get to do is regularly communicate with the controllers of the various sectors along the route. Kuala Lumpur airspace is controlled by Subang ATC (often erroneously called Kuala Lumpur center). As MH-370 departed K.L. the pilots first talked to K.L.departure control and at some point were handed off to Subang Center. They would have checked in with a report of their altitude and, if climbing, the altitude they were climbing to. It was late on the night of the disappearance and so the communications were probably minimal but at the boundary of Subang Control and Ho Chi Minh Control (Viet Nam), Also called the FIR boundary, Subang called  and Handed MH-370 off to HO Chi Minh saying something very much like “Malaysia 370, contact Ho Chi Minh now on XXX.XX Good night. MH-370 responded with something not quite SOP but good enough. They said something like  “OK good night”. Now, here’s what should be happening in the cockpit at this time. As Subang calls the plane the pilot monitoring the radios moves his hand to the radio, knowing a frequency change is coming, and as Subang gives him the frequency he is dialing that in on the ‘scratchpad’ half of the radio. As soon as he says ‘goodnight; he pushes a little button in the middle of the radio and the ‘scratchpad frequency becomes the active frequency. In almost the same moment the pilot would (Unless someone else was already talking on the frequency) say “HO Chi Minh Malaysia 370 level 350, indicating that the airplane was flying level at 35,000. This did not happen.

Of course this is where all the conjecture began for the news organizations. Let’s consider a few.

1. The plane blew up… Nope, we know from publically released records that the plane continued flying for approximately six and one half hours more. Additionally, the odds that a perfectly good 777 would blow up at exactly the instant between talking to Subang and trying to talk to Ho Chi minh are astronomically small.

2. The pilots became incapacitated…   Nope. A pilot capable of saying goodnight to Subang would certainly be able to say good evening to Ho Chi Minh one second later. I am unaware of any medical malady that could incapacitate both pilots that quickly.

Now, information trickled out rather slowly at first about those first few minutes of this event but regardless, conjecture on either of these two points was foolish from the beginning and the so called experts should have know this.

We now know that at the very same moment that the pilots supposedly became incapacitated, the airplane also suffered failure of the transponder and the ADS-B and the CPDLC. You don’t need to know what those are but just know that they are various ways the airplane communicates autonomously with various ground facilities for various reasons. Now ask yourself, what are the odds that the aircraft would lose communications at the exact same instant that the pilots would presumably became non-responsive. This fact alone was the flag that shouted “This was no accident!” Virtually all international pilots knew this from the very beginning. Yet the experts kept on talking nonsense on the 24 hour news cycles. Over and Over and Over.

EVEN IF these things had happened magically without pilot intervention what happened next is impossible. The airplane turned! And not just to any random heading! It turned to follow the FIR boundary exactly. The plane split the line between Subang and Ho Chi Minh perfectly, supposedly so that each agency would think the other was talking to the aircraft. Also, being virtually invisible electronically it is possible that both ATC centers might not even have seen the plane. Nothing could have been more deliberate. What you, dear reader, need to know is that there is no way the airplane would automatically turn like this.  If everybody on board suddenly died and the plane was left to itself it would continue on the pre-programmed course that was set back on the ground in Kuala Lumpur. The plane would have continued on to Beijing and then probably kept the same course until it ran out of gas. This is what happened to the Lear Jet that Paine Stewart died on.

So, make no mistake, one way or the other this plane was intentionally diverted and the transponder was intentionally turned off. Turning off the ADS and the CPDLC was more difficult and not many pilots would know how to do that – but it is not hard and can be done with a little bit of study. The one thing the pilots or the responsible parties did not do and probably did not know about was the automatic reporting the engines tried repeatedly to do to the home factories for the next six and a half hours. This was the element that let the world know that the airplane did not crash right away.

Now the real question: “What happen to flight MH-370?”

These questions are harder to answer; but not impossible. First of all there is absolutely NO precedent to suggest that a pilot bent on suicide or mayhem would steal a plane and then fly it around for six and a half more hours. Even the cowardly act of committing suicide takes a level of courage that doesn’t last long. Germanwings 9525 and EgyptAir 990 both went down quickly and before anyone else had a chance to intervene. Why would MH-370 fly around till sunrise? Maybe that is the answer! Sunrise! The only difference between when the plane disappeared and when it supposedly went down was that the Sun came up and the person at the controls could see. Why would that make a difference? Because maybe, just maybe the person at the controls needed to see in order to land the plane on some un-improved strip in Bangladesh, or Myanmar, or, pick your place. Somewhere. But, you say, they told us it went down in the middle of the ocean. Interestingly, we have not found a single life preserver, set cushion, piece of insulation or other buoyant object. You should know that if the plane went down under control A’la Captain Sully it would have remained intact. It would have floated for a considerable time; however, there are five emergency locator transmitters on board, anyone of which would have automatically triggered and begun sending out signals that would have been picked up by any number of satellites. If it crashed and broke up there would be debris, no matter where it hit the water. “But” you say, “All the news organizations say it went down in the middle of the ocean”. That doesn’t make it so.

Let me share with you a few things that are absolutely true, I swear.

1. The bad guys still want a big airplane. It is their number one goal. I was told this in recurrent training just before MH-370 disappeared and it has remained true every year before and since.

2. For life to continue and for economies to keep growing the public has to feel safe and secure. This means not letting the public know about every attempt by bad guys to hurt us. Let me tell you about a experience I had. I swear this is absolutely true. I had the opportunity to sit, on an airplane, next to one of the most powerful politicians in the U.S. One of the very most powerful. We were talking about all of the security measures, ie Homeland Security, the TSA and all of the security related restrictions we as Americans face daily because of 9/11. I asked him if this was really necessary? Was the threat really as great as it seemed? He looked me straight in the eye and with a seriousness that caught me off guard he said, “Oh yes. They try every day! Our security is just that good.” He then went on to share some additional insight with me. I realized that it was in the American public’s best interest to not know everything that goes on. Rather we just want to know that what ever is going on, we are being protected by people whose job it is to know.

3.Do we know where the plane is/was? Probably. A few years after 9/11 there was a raid conducted jointly by the Americans and the French in which some very high ranking Al Qaieda leaders were captured. A tremendous amount of intelligence was gathered at the same time but a French commander made a terrible blunder. In front of the cameras he held up a notebook that contained all of the phone numbers, computer passwords and contact information about all of the other Al Qaieda bad guys. The Americans were incensed because the release of the fact that we had the book immediately rendered it useless. It was tantamount to telling the Germans that we had decrypted the Enigma machine during World War II. I find it highly improbable that we don’t know where the plane was during the entire event. The U.S. has a number of spy satellites positioned all around the world. these are the ones that can read a license plane from 400 miles up. They are not really that secret. The first really good ones were called the KH-11 Keyhole satellites. I believe we re now up to KH-11 series 14. These are just part of the reconnaissance assets that the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) has at their command. I believe we can see anything on Earth that we want to. More on this in a moment.

4. It has long been rumored that a number of nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union ‘disappeared’ from inventory with the break up of the USSR. Probably true. Lots of things go missing in government hands…sometimes accidentally, sometimes not. Now, let’s just suppose for a minute that the bad guys have one or two of these, I mean they had to go somewhere and that somewhere would certainly be into the hands of bad guys…right? They would probably be pretty easy to hide. I mean, look how long it took us to find Bin Laden. But even if bad guys had a nuke they would have no way to throw it at us, hence the desire to get a long range plane. So, back to the previous point; If we know that bad guys want a plane to deliver a nuke and we don’t know where the nuke is, BUT, we do know where the plane is, then the smartest thing we could do is keep our mouths shut, pretend we are looking for the plane in the middle of the Indian Ocean like everyone else, and wait until the bomb shows up. Then, just like any good James Bond movie, we send in the best we have and they take out to whole mess, plane, bomb and bad guys. And, just like any good James Bond movie, the world never knows how close they came to disaster! This is the formula for every good spy movie and novel, but it is not without merit. As my politician friend indicated, things happen everyday and we never know about them.

I could go on but you get the point. My belief is that the plane is no longer a plane. It was destroyed on the ground days or weeks later; not in the ocean that night. There is so much more I could write and in fact I am thinking about writing a fictional novel giving the whole plot but I’ll spare you that today. Thanks for reading and sticking with me through this whole thing. Now, go think about it for a while. It just might give you chills.


Germanwings Flight 9525

In airline_crash, current events, media manipulation, Uncategorized on March 25, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Oculus book cover

 By Mark Swint     Author of “OCULUS: The Zebulon Initiative

I must step away from the normal issues of this blog to speak about the crash of Germanwings flight 9525 in France yesterday. As many of might know, I am a senior captain for a major U.S. Airline and I fly Boeing 777s. In fact, I am in Hong Kong on a trip right now.

I have listened, as have many of you, to the endless analysis on the 24 hour news media. I am appalled by the things I hear and I suppose those of you who are not pilots might be even more confused than I. Let me clear a few things up for you.

Anytime an aircraft is above 29,000 feet it must be on autopilot. the autopilot will maintain the aircraft on its planned course and keep it at its last assigned altitude until given fresh commands by the flight crew. Secondly, while the door on today’s airliners are very secure there is a code that will give a pilot on the outside access to the cockpit UNLESS the pilots in the cockpit actively deny that code. Denying the code will lock the door for 30 minutes from any further attempt to enter via code entry. So, the fact that the pilot who left the cockpit could not regain entry to the flight deck indicates that the pilot inside was actively keeping him out. Now, Richard Quest on CNN was adamant that the highest probability was that the pilot at the controls most probably had a medical event of some kind. I respectfully disagree. If the pilot on the flight deck had, for example, passed out, the pilot on the outside would have been able to enter the cockpit 30 seconds after entering the proper code. Also, the autopilot would have continued to fly the plane on its planned course and at its assigned altitude. The fact that a pilot made a normal radio contact with the controllers and then went radio silent at about the same time that the plane began an unusually steep descent indicates that this was an intentional act of hijack, piracy, terrorism…call it what you may. the aircraft descended for eight minutes until impact at a rate of descent greater than that possible with the autopilot  in control. In fact, the aircraft would have had to either deploy the speed brakes on the wings (Which is done manually) or the plane would have had to exceed its maximum airspeed limitations in order to get a 4,000 foot per minute rate of descent.

I find it odd that the news agencies have all the details on the flight hours of the pilots and their years of experience and yet will not give us their names. Why is this? I fear political correctness is interfering or ele political pressure is being exerted to quash that information. Either way this whole thing stinks. But make no mistake…this was not an accident.

What Are You Afraid Of? part 1

In fear, media manipulation, news media, social engineering on September 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

By: Mark Swint

                                                               Oculus book cover

Part 1

(I was just a few paragraphs into this essay when I realized that this was a MUCH bigger subject than I had at first supposed, Hence, the subject will be covered in three separate postings. I hope you enjoy this first one.)

What are you afraid of? Oh, you’re not afraid of anything? I beg to differ. You see advertisers, news outlets, big business and big government are all united in trying to scare you so that they can sell you something or get you to give them something that they want. This is how the world works. It is how the world has always worked. Fear has always been the great equalizer. It has brought disparate families and individuals together to form communities for the common protection of the whole. It has given rise to armies and navies throughout time to provide for the common defense of the people. On a much more benign level it is a subtle fear of being left out or left behind that creates in all of us that need to ‘keep up with the Jones’. Perhaps fear is too strong a word but the idea is valid that we are often driven to action because of a deep seated need to be a part of something; to not be an outcast; to not be cool, or…to not be left behind.

In the beginning fear of predators both animal and human caused societies to band together and to form cities and build walls. All ancient cities were – and many still are – protected by high walls that kept enemies at bay. One of the still extant Wonders of the World is the Great Wall of China, an accomplishment so great that it is visible from space. Walls and safety in numbers was the rule of the day and for many centuries that was sufficient for most people to live and go about some semblance of normal life. Thankfully, people became somewhat more civilized as time went on – well that and the fact that weapons were devised for which walls were no defense – and the walls came down. Still, armies were mustered and navies were built to project power and invincibility to all who would molest or make afraid. It worked a little bit – but warfare has been the common pattern of the world ever since. I cannot think, as I sit here right now, of a time ever in my life when there has not been a war going on somewhere in the world (Or multiple wars for that matter). And so, like everyone else, I look to my government, an organization I have ceded much of my personal power to, for the common good of me, and my family, and those around me. I have essentially told the government to do whatever is necessary to protect me from invaders both foreign and domestic. As a result I pay a significant portion of my income to them each year because I know they will wisely and efficiently employ that money to protect me, (at least that is the theory right?).

Threats come in many forms. Invaders from other countries is but one. How about the threat posed by polluting the environment? Or maintaining proper water standards? Or common educational goals, or dangerous workplaces? I am afraid of all of these things but I know I am safe because my government has established – with our tax dollars – the EPA, the FDA, OSHA and a host of other agencies, some of whose functions I cannot explain.

And then there are the diseases! The one in the news cycle right now is Ebola, a horrifying disease that has afflicted many unfortunate people in Africa. But have you noticed? There is always a disease to be afraid of. Did you or anyone you know of contract SARS? Or H1n1? Or Bird Flu? Or Swine Flu? Or Asian Flu” Or or or. The list goes on. These are and were maladies that when compared with other much more common but much less sexy diseases had virtually NO impact on our daily lives and yet somehow dominated news channels far out of proportion to what they merited. For each of these diseases the big pharmaceutical companies were able, nay impressed upon, to sell millions of doses of vaccines (at incredible profit) to the government for our common good. Those doses lie dormant somewhere in some undisclosed warehouse where they will stay for who knows how long. I am willing to bet that they will never be used. You see, they were never intended for public consumption. They just needed to be bought. The pharmaceutical companies understand that old adage of business ‘find a need and fill it” and have bumped it up a notch to “create a need and fill it.” It’s not about saving lives, lives that were never in danger in the first place, but about selling product…creating a need.

September 11, 2001 was a horrible day in the lives of all Americans. I have personally flown the United Airlines planes used in that attack and I have flown those routes. I lost personal friends who were at the controls that day. Nothing will diminish the impact of that day. Nevertheless, after the passage of a decade plus, I sit back and wonder at the changes that have occurred since then. As a pilot I am subjected to the indignities of the TSA almost every day. The body scans and the pat downs (NO, they don’t cut pilots any slack) not just here but in other countries as well. It seems England and Australia are particularly zeroed in on American pilots (I recently had Australian authorities take a pair of scissors from me because they were a threat even though they were ‘giving me the keys’ to a Boeing 777 with 290 souls on board. I guess taking the scissors from me took away all the opportunity I might have to do something bad with the plane. The bottom line is that it was our fear of terrorists that caused us to turn to our governments and say ‘DO SOMETHING”. The patriot act came into being for good reason but look how much freedom we voluntarily gave up for an enhanced sense of safety and protection from the thing we collectively feared. And it is not just terrorism or the patriot act that takes our freedoms. It is a general need to feel safe from whatever we fear that drives governments to encroach ever deeper into our lives. The recent disclosures of NSA spying on Americans would have, just a few years ago, sparked outrage, but not now. “Eh” we say, “that is just the cost of doing business” and we go on with our lives.

It is not just big government either. Did you ever imagine that you would one day pay much more for water that your do for gasoline? Why is that? “Pesticides you say! Someone has convinced you that our municipal water systems are incapable of cleaning pesticides and fertilizers from our water sufficiently for human consumption. Oh really? But Coca Cola (Bottler of Desani) and other American corporations are…for a profit of course? And for those unfortunate individuals who are still foolish enough to drink from a tap or a water hose or, gasp, even from a mountain spring…are they falling over dead in droves? Are they growing extra limbs or third eyes? Are they experiencing stunted growth or renal failure or liver diseases? I think not. Every generation before us must be rolling over in their graves!

It seems now days all one has to do is merely raise an issue, buy some time on TV for an infomercial and suddenly we have a new threat to our health and happiness. Take for example sunlight. Now keep in mind that this is the same sunlight under which ALL life on earth has evolved and thrived since time immemorial. It is sunlight that gives us the very best source of vitamin D, essential to ward off several maladies including rickets. First we were educated about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays (true) and then we were told that the Ozone layer, that 3 inch thick layer of O3 Oxygen molecules that blanket the earth way up on top of the stratosphere was disappearing and that we were all going to die of terminal sunburn and skin cancer and then corporate America miraculously gave us salvation by providing an artificial concoction of chemicals that we are to slather upon our skin to block the Sun’s harmful rays. You see, dermatologists always knew about skin cancer but every bit of research ever conducted on the subject clearly stated that skin cancers were most commonly caused by severe sun burns IN EARLY CHILDHOOD. Pretty soon corporations convinced the public discussion to drop the ‘severe sun burns’ thing and the ‘in early childhood’ thing and redirect the conversation to “The sun causes skin cancer! Here buy our stuff and put it on you every day for the rest of your life.” No discussion was every made about the body’s built in defense of tanning for protection. Our ancestors never had the rate of skin cancers we have today. Why? Because unlike us, they weren’t afraid to go out into the sun. In fact they had to go out into the sun to work the fields and the crops and the herds. They were tanned and while tanning does indeed age the skin prematurely to be sure, they did not get skin cancers like we shadow dwellers do today. The body knows how to protect itself. “But wait!” You say. “We are destroying our ozone layer with our Freon and other chemicals. Just look at the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica!” with just a little digging you will find out that scientists have known about the hole in the ozone layer for over a hundred years.  You will also learn that the hole is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens every year during the Antarctic winter, and while it may fluctuate from year to year, there is absolutely no evidence that the hole is continually getting bigger or that the total amount of Ozone present is irretrievably diminishing. Ozone is not, in fact, a finite quantity. It is continually being made, or at least when sunlight is present. The Ozone molecule has a life of just about three weeks and then it returns to the much more stable O2 molecule. The media would have you believe that once the ozone is gone there will be no more ozone. This is simply not true. Do a little research for yourselves and check UV levels year over year for the last twenty or so years. You will see very minor fluctuations but no negative trends. You see, the same lack of sunlight in the winter that causes ozone levels to drop also means that UV levels for sunlight drop commensurately. How cool is that? If you don’t want to do the research then just watch the evening weather girl tell you what the UV index is for tomorrow and watch that every night. Right now the indexes are about 5 or 6. They are 9 or 10 in the summer and 2 or 3 in the winter, every winter and every summer!  They haven’t changed and they will not change, but this doesn’t change the fact that the sunblock manufacturers will make several billions of dollars this and every year selling you goop to put on your skin.   Companies survive by selling stuff, and to sell stuff you must create a need. It doesn’t matter if that need is real or perceived as long as it spurs people to buy buy buy. Governments cannot grow without creating a need to grow so they present us with threats and promise to protect us…for a fee. Churches remind us constantly of our sinful state and promise to be the palliative that will cleanse our souls and allow us to enter heaven. They really believe this. In fact they believe this so much that throughout the ages churches have killed and oppressed non-believers and waged war against other churches that preach the very same thing but under the banner of a different denomination. Ironically, they call them Holy Wars.

So, how long do you want to stay afraid? Me? I live each day realizing that life goes on and that I am doing just fine.