For someone like Blaine Gibson the world seems like a small place. He has travelled across every continent and sea visiting 177 countries on the way. The 59-year-old American Blaine Gibson doesn't have a profession as such, rather ambition which could be described as presumptuous, almost arrogant.
Columbus travelled west.
Vasco da Gama east.
Gibson sits in a small green boat in flip-flops as it makes its way through the calm seas off the coast of Mozambique.
It is February 27th, the rear engine chugs along and a headwind cools the crew in the African heat. For ten months Blaine Gibson has been on a journey against all odds. He has been to Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand, then Malaysia and Western Australia, before heading to the Maldives, Mauritius and La Réunion. He has spent thousands of dollars on flights, cheap hostels and boat trips but has yet to find what he has been looking for. So next on the list is Mozambique. In the coastal town of Vilankulo a local fisherman has told him about a sandbank where anything and everything you could think of gets washed up - old nets, pieces of rope, buoys torn from their anchors. Gibson later tells me that he hopes something else turns up on this February day, something only an expert in the subject of ‘ocean waste’ would notice. Something which could bring him closer to solving the mystery. In fact, it is pieces of wreckage from an aeroplane he is looking for.
Early on March 8th 2014, almost two years before Blaine Gibson had asked the fisherman to take him to the sandbank, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared. Flight MH370. The 239 people on board were travelling from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. 37 minutes after takeoff the plane vanished from radar screens, failing to reappear ever again.
An accident? A technical failure? A terrorist attack? Pilot suicide? Or did the plane suffer a similar fate to that of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, shot down four months later flying over the fighting in eastern Ukraine?
In a world where GPS satellites can pinpoint cars to the nearest metre, where rockets can be guided with utmost precision, can an aeroplane simply disappear? A steel monster weighing 223 tonnes and equipped with state-of-the-art communication technology.
The search for flight MH370 is a puzzle of epic proportions. From American engineers, Australian physicists and mathematicians to British satellite experts, they have all been trying to put it together but despair at the number of missing pieces. The experts have made numerous complex calculations and used planes, ships and sonar devices to search the sea bed. It is the largest underwater search in history at a cost of 115 million euros. But technology does not stand a chance when faced with the vastness of our oceans.