The following article is republished from Medium: https://medium.com/@mikechillit_79679/mh370-anatomy-of-a-search-a72ebb1c44c4
The wizened geezer who, it is said, was once instrumental in locating the last remains of Phileas Fogg’s “Henrietta” on the fringes of Liverpool, looked skeptical as he examined the image and considered the question. “You mean to tell me you want to find an aeroplane that crashed while circling a satellite?”
It was then I realized that perhaps I hadn’t thought the search through very carefully.
“No, the plane was circling earth, not a satellite.”
He took another slow sip of coffee and said, “if the yellow strip on your map is where you plan to search, it’s just a satellite arc; nothing to do with a Great Circle. Do you know about Great Circles?”
“Wow!” I muttered. How could I have missed that? I need to rethink it all in spherical terms. No more “flat earth” for me this week.”
“But the chuffed-to-bits news,” the old man added, “is that there won’t be much to search. A few days of someone’s time. Not more. Two small locations at most. The plane will be at one of them. The only way it will take longer is if you ignore Mother Earth’s Great Circle penchant. Good luck, sonny.”
I thanked him and walked back to Jacques Cousteau’s Starfish Emporium.
Personally, I tend to favor a view of the world that has straight edges and square corners. Trying to visualize things in 3-D gives me a headache. But like many things, multiple dimensions can be an acquired taste. The challenge that was MH370 baffled us all. Finding it was far simpler than one would guess from the amount of time devoted to it. It was not another Amelia. This one had easy-to-follow tracks. It simply required a different way of thinking about what might have happened.