Flying Tiger Line Flight 739, March 16, 1972.

In 1962 a Lockheed Constellation took off over the Pacific Ocean carrying 96 soldiers and 11 crewmen, and then disappeared forever. The military conducted one of the largest search-and-rescue missions in the history of the Pacific, but never found a trace of their lost soldiers. Flying Tiger Line, an early cargo airline and military contractor, speculated that the flight had been hijacked or otherwise sabotaged, but admitted that they had no evidence tu support their theories. Sailors aboard a Liberian tanker reported a fireball splashing into the sea, which suggest that Flight 739 exploded in midair. That was never confirmed.

Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time

EgyptAir Flight 990, October 31, 1999.

EgyptAir Flight 990 is one of the most tragic aviation mysteries. In 1999 an EgyptAir Boeing 767 departed from Los Angeles and then crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 passengers and crew. The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) blamed mechanical failure, but the United States National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that the pilot committed suicide. The pilot’s last recorded words were, “I rely on God,” so it was open season for speculation. Conspiracy theorists blamed the Mossad, the CIA, and Egyptian extremists, but we still don’t know who or what actually knocked Flight 990 out of the sky. EgyptAir ultimately retired flight no. 990, and the company no longer runs the Los Angeles route at all.

Air France Flight 447, June 1, 2009.

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, October 13 – December 23, 1972.

TWA Flight 800, July 17, 1996

On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 took off from JFK Airport headed for Paris. Just 12 minutes later, it exploded over the shores of Long Island, New York. There were 230 people on board, and no one survived. Many eyewitnesses described seeing something heading toward the plane before it exploded, and the suspicion of terrorism was almost instant. The biggest investigation in aviation history, at that time, ensued. The government spent four years and millions of dollars in that investigation and 18 years later, many still question whether they got it right. A full four years after the crash of TWA Flight 800, the NTSB released its official report: It found the probable cause of the accident was a spark in the center fuel tank that eventually led to the explosion that brought down the aircraft. While they offered their best theory on where the spark came from, they never found a definitive answer.

 Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time

Lady Be Good disappearance, April 4, 1943

A US Army Air Corps B-24D named Lady Be Good was part of a bombing raid on Italy on April 4, 1943. It was the first mission for both the plane and the crew. Lady Be Good was the only plane of the mission that did not return to its base in Libya. Officials assumed at the time that the plane went down in the Mediterranean Sea. An extensive search was carried out, but no sign of the plane or crew was found. In 1958 an oil survey exploration crew was taking aerial photographs and spotted the plane in the Libyan desert. The plane had crashed, but was preserved well in the arid conditions. There was no sign of the nine-man crew. In 1960, the remains of eight of the nine crew members were found at various places in the desert. Among the items found with the bodies was a diary of co-pilot Robert Toner that revealed the tragic story. The nine men had bailed out before the crash; eight survived. The survivors walked 85 miles before five gave up and three continued to walk until they died. The remains of gunner Vernon L. Moore were never found. It is one of the oldest aviation mysteries.

 Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time

BSAA Avro Lancastrian Star Dust Accident, August 2, 1947

Until 1 years ago, rumor and intrigue surrounded the story of Star Dust, an airliner that disappeared without a trace in 1947. Widespread searches failed to turn up any trace of the aircraft or its 11 passengers, and theories of spies, sabotage, and even alien abduction swarmed around tales of the lost prop plane. But 50 years later glacial ice in the Andes melted to reveal wreckage that looked startlingly like Star Dust. We now know that the aircraft plunged into the snowy mountain range and, on impact, instantly buried itself in an avalanche. It took half a century of glacial melting, but this puzzle was finally solved.

 Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, March 8, 2014

The missing Malaysian Airlines plane, flight MH370, is one of the most famous aviation mysteries nowadays. An aircraft had 239 people onboard and was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 when air traffic control staff lost contact with it. Despite an extensive search of the southern Indian Ocean, no trace of the aircraft was found until the discovery of the barnacle-encrusted flaperon on Reunion Island, more than 3,700km (2,300 miles) away from the main search site, in July 2015. French investigators confirmed the aircraft wing part came from the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, after one of three numbers found on the flaperon was formally identified by a technician from Airbus Defense and Space (ADS-SAU) in Spain, which made the part for Boeing. Investigators are continuing to search for the rest of the plane. The scope of the search has changed many times since the plane disappeared, because of confusion over its last movements, but it is expected to be concluded by the middle of 2016.

Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time

Amelia Earhart disappearance, July 2, 1937

It wouldn’t be a list of aviation mysteries without her. In 1937 Amelia Earhart vanished in a Lockheed Electra, never to finish her round-the-world flight. The only clues that Earhart and her Electra left behind were a few garbled (and disputed) radio transmissions. We may never know what happened to Amelia Earhart after that flight. The simplest theory  – that she ditched her airplane and died at sea – has never quite satisfied popular imagination. The craziest theories have her captured and executed by the Japanese government or quietly living out her days in New Jersey under an assumed name. Regardless, this remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

Top 10 Aviation Mysteries of All the Time