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    Re: Occam's razor
    From: Gary LaPook
    Date: 2014 Mar 19, 12:40 -0700
    That reminds me. On my first trip Iceland from Chicago I was sitting in the window seat on the port side of the airliner. Most passengers were asleep. It started to get light outside and then I saw the sun rise out on the left wingtip. I though, "oh my god, we are way off course, the sun rises in the east so, since it is on the wingtip, we must be flying south or southeast, we are way off course, we are all going to die!" Before I signaled the flight attendant I gave it some more thought. It was summer, our northeast course was causing the plane to increase its latitude. We had gone far enough north to enter the "land of the midnight sun." I had observed the sun rising basically straight north of the plane, rising over the north pole as the plane moved to the north. Way cool!


    From: Frank Reed <FrankReed@HistoricalAtlas.com>
    To: garylapook@pacbell.net
    Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 12:11 PM
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Occam's razor

    "Also cell phone towers don't point up. Cell phone reception is poor above 4000 ft AGL."
    Here's yet another slate blog article with a reasonable analysis of the cell phone issue:
    Note that many international airlines DO have mobile phone service on-board which is not altitude-limited and which works over oceans, but apparently this airplane did not, and, as the article notes, it can be turned off from the cockpit as easily as anything else. Just imagine though... if ONE passenger had been familiar with the stars and had not gone to sleep, then the course changes would have been obvious. I'm sure many of you remember the old movie "Airport" --the one that started the series back in 1970 or so. There's a kid on the flight who asks the captain (played by Dean Martin) about Orion and other stars. The captain feeds him some techno-babble that confuses the kid enough to stop his questions. I suppose that trick would still work today.
    I was originally a fan of the "Payne Stewart crash" model for this incident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_South_Dakota_Learjet_crash), but there are too many apparent course changes to support that.. I still think it's most likely that the plane will be found crashed into a mountainside, or maybe some nameless swamp, somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas. The theory that the passengers were to be held for ransom is still plausible, and if anything had gone wrong, well, flying is easy... except when the land jumps up and puts a wall in front of you.
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