Home Heath Mayhew Postcard from the Edge – How to Disappear … Completely

Postcard from the Edge – How to Disappear … Completely

 In our FB age, with constant fears about being tracked via our smart phones, or other electronic devices, it’s rather amazing that an entire airplane can disappear out of thin air.  The strangeness is spectacular because we still haven’t updated our technology to always have an airplane in our sights.  Or any large vehicle for that matter.  Does it make sense to have tracking devices that someone can’t turn off on all airplanes and boats, so that in cases such as with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, we can follow them anywhere they go?  Is that the difference between commercial airliners and military planes that only the commercial ones have an on/off switch communication device?

1-1-Sketch-of-DB-CooperThis story reminds me of a little-known thief named D.B. Cooper, who in 1971, extorted $200,000 in ransom money after he hijacked a Boeing 727 in mid-flight, and then escaped by parachuting to an uncertain fate.   The FBI folks, known to be stubborn, believe he didn’t survive his jump.

The case is still open, however, and that suggests that maybe he did survive.

It seems easy for a man to jump from a plane and disappear into the woods (and then back into society somewhere), but that was 1971.  If someone were to do that today, they’d probably post a mid-jump selfie on Facebook, and get caught two hours later.  So if we can so easily track people, how come we can’t track down a plane?

It’s moments like this when I look around in awe: on one hand, we have such amazing technology, and yet, on the other hand, it can appear so primitive and rather barbaric.  That, in the age of global networking, an entire airplane can be lost into thin ether, seems otherworldly.

And to those paranoids who feel like the NSA is tracking everyone, let Flight 370 be an eye-opener; if they can’t track an airplane, they won’t track your selfies.


  1. Very nice. But have you thought maybe this shows Cooper did survive? And like any good tradesman, isn’t letting his skills rust? Pretty soon Crimea will disappear. I’d look for Cooper in that room, too.

  2. Nice , but re: the NSA & selfies tracking – what if one is hotter than a commercial airliner? Besides, don’t the selfie people want to be tracked?

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