2014 Around the World

Malaysia Airlines Plane (Athena Picture Agency) The UAVs took over the civil aviation world, a commercial space shuttle crashed, and a probe landed on a comet for the first time – 2014 was an eventful year in the field of global aviation

Eilon Tohar | Translation: Eden Sharon

The Aerial Mysteries of the Year
2014 comes to a close with the disappearance of the “AirAsia” airplane which was on its way from Indonesia to Singapore. An hour before the scheduled landing, contact with the plane and its 162 passengers was lost after the pilot asked to change the flight path due to severe weather conditions. Two days later, parts of the plane were found in sea, alongside dozens of bodies and personal belongings. At the same time, Indonesia and other volunteering countries continue their aerial and naval searching.

One of the most covered aerial mysteries of the past year regards Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane left the airport of Malaysia’s capital with 227 passengers and 12 crew members onboard – and never made it to its destination. News channels from all over the world rapidly started reporting the incident, the internet was filled with different theories and the disappearance remains a mystery.

The Year of UAVs
The world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has gone through many changes and improvements over the year, making them more accessible to the civilian world. The UAVs, which until recently were used only for military purposes, have turned into a desired product. In the past, UAVs were sold for millions of dollars, while today they are sold for prices as low as ten dollars. “Amazon” has reported that UAVs became one the most popular holiday gifts this year. Tourists connect their cameras to drone and companies use them for marketing tricks. The field of UAVs is also turning commercial, for example “Amazon” and “Domino’s Pizza” are testing the format of deliveries by UAVS. A video published in May shows a fireworks show which was documented by a drone:


The Probe That Tweeted From Space
This year marked a major achievement also in the field of space: For the first time ever, a human-made object landed on a comet. After ten years of cruising in space, the probe “Rosetta” arrived at its destination and released a landing craft to the Churyumov-Gerasimenko Comet. The landing was very accurate: for seven hours, the probe “Philae” descended to the ground of the comet, while providing first-of-their-kind photos of the comet and a Twitter account in its name reported every development. Unfortunately, not long after the celebrations of the people behind the complex operation, the battery ran out and the contact with the probe that made history was lost.

The Crash That Got Celebrities Worried
The expectations were high, but the Virgin Galactic’s commercial space shuttle “Space Ship Two”, owned by the British billionaire Richard Branson and designed to commercially shuttle people to space, exploded immediately after taking off for a test flight in California two months ago. A member of the flight team was killed while the other managed to escape. Over 700 people have already signed up for the first commercial space shuttles, including many celebrities: Steven Hocking, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, who announced a concert in space.

Birth in Space and Other Bizarre flights
“Flybe” Airlines are proud for their diverse employment practices, which include numerous disabled people. Last February, one of their pilots lost control of a plane shortly after his artificial arm became detached while flying. The passengers felt a small trembling, but the pilot managed to gain control of the plane with his right hand and landed it safely.

Last October, an “EasyJet” pilot approached the passengers and asked for some of them to get off the plane, claiming it is too heavy. Ten people raised their hands and left the plane.

And finally, an American passenger went into labor during flight and forced the pilot to perform a quick emergency landing. Fortunately, a nurse and a doctor who were on the plane assisted her. The birth itself took place a short while after the takeoff with the applause of the excited passengers. When more can we say? Have a Happy New Year!