MH370: For the Conspiracy Theorists


The latest developments in the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, including suggestions that Boeing 777-200 may be been stolen and landed on a remote island, have catalyzed conspiracy theories, from alien abduction and a reboot of Lost to a skein of scenarios involving terrorists.

The frenzy led me to an obscure book in my personal library, Thirty Seconds Over New York, published in English in 1970. The short novel, originally written in French by Robert Buchard in 1969, tells of a plot by “a fanatical Chinese colonel to provoke total war by penetrating America’s billion-dollar defenses and dropping a nuclear bomb on its largest city.”

In the days before President Nixon visited China, the book was blurbed as “An exciting and terrifying novel of suspense in the tradition of Fail-Safe and Seven Days in May.”

The scheme involves using a stolen Boeing 707 painted in the livery of TWA, which shadows the real TWA Flight 811 from Rome to New York, and then takes its place over Newfoundland. The airliner is full of unwitting Chinese operatives posing as passengers.