Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. Dubbed a “dubious and far-fetched story” by Channel 5’s ‘Flight MH370’, an author unveiled a sensational theory in the 2019 book ‘The Hunt for MH370’. Journalist Ean Higgins accused Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah of planning the mass murder so that he could escape and start a new life with his mistress.
The theory, he claimed, was originally put forward by David Shrubb, Qantas’ former manager of flight training and veteran airline captain.
Mr Shrubb explained to Mr Higgins that the pilot wanted to leave his wife Faiza Khanum Mustafa Khan, but it would be difficult given his Muslim faith, so he designed an elaborate plan to escape his life.
Mr Higgins’ book claimed Mr Shah had numerous mistresses over the years, but Rina with her “long, lustrous hair and sensuous figure” was his favourite.
What’s more, Rina apparently came into a large inheritance before she met Mr Shah while working on the security scanners at Kuala Lumpur Airport.
MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah
Mr Shah allegedly met his mistress at Kuala Lumpur Airport
Mr Higgins wrote: “The love tryst couple decided on an elaborate plan to elope and secretly establish a new life in another obscure but pleasant Asian country.”
He claimed that Mr Shah used a criminal connection to obtain two stolen passports the night before the MH370 flight, which they would use to assume new identities.
He then allegedly packed his flight kit with extra warm clothes, a bright waterproof torch, whistle and parachute.
Then, when the flight was on its way he apparently depressurised the aircraft so everyone on board would become comatose from hypoxia or die.
Mr Shah allegedly flew the plane to a remote area of the Indian Ocean so it would never be found
According to the wild theory, he went into the passenger cabin and robbed travellers and other crew members “systemically but quickly”, taking their wallets and purses and emptying cash into a waterproof container.
When he knew he was out of radar range, he allegedly slowed the plane and took it down to 3000 feet.
Mr Higgins wrote: “Seeing the lights of the fishing boat he was expecting, just as planned at the precise agreed coordinates, Zaharie put a deflated life jacked on along with his parachute.
“He returned to the passenger cabin and opened one of the exit doors just behind the wings, after pushing a lifeless flight attendant who had collapsed there out of the way.”
Families of those on MH370 are still without answers
It is unknown whether the pilot was to blame at all for MH370’s disappearance
He claimed Mr Shah then parachuted out to meet Rina, guided by the lights on her fishing boat.
He wrote: “Within 15 minutes the love of her life was safely aboard and in her arms, ready to secretly elope overseas and start a new life, the cash from the inheritance secure in the hold.”
Mr Shah was reported to have been having marital issues at the time of MH370’s disappearance and he allegedly bombarded several models on social media with sexually suggestive comments.
Nevertheless, this theory has been branded “sensational” and “far-fetched”.
Mr Higgins outlined a number of different theories as to what happened to MH370 in his book – some more plausible than others – but he said this one is his favourite because it is so “imaginative”.
He added that there is precedent in aviation history of every key element of the theory to make it plausible.
For example, in 1971, DB Cooper hijacked a flight by claiming he had a bomb in his suitcase.
He demanded a huge sum of money and then jumped out of the plane in a parachute, never to be seen again.
Families are still waiting for answers to the MH370 mystery
Then, in 2009, “hero pilot” Dominic James used a pocket light to attract the attention of emergency services after he had to ditch his plane off Norfolk Island.
That is apparently why Mr Shah would have taken a parachute and lights with him.
The aviation expert told news.com.au: “That’s my favourite theory as well in the sense because it’s the most imaginative.
“There are lots of others, but you can exclude them basically.
“We know a fair bit not to exclude things. The ones I have are the ones that are consistent with the known facts.”