AH Vignette: Flight 1414

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by James G, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. James G has taken down his work left the board Donor

    Dec 16, 2012
    Hull: where that culture has departed from
    British Airways Flight 1414 went missing during the afternoon of Friday July 10th 2015.

    The Boeing-777, a twin engine trans-Atlantic wide-body aircraft, was on its way from London Heathrow to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. When over the northern reaches of the Atlantic, near the bottom of Greenland and between Iceland and Newfoundland, radar screens in both latter locations lost contact with the transponder signal which had been emitting beforehand. At first it was believed a technical error either on the ground or with the aircraft was the cause of Flight 1414 no longer appearing on those displays, but then cursory radio contact went unanswered too.

    Following established procedures, notification was made to many sources including British Airways, Canadian military command and the Icelandic authorities. Other aircraft on their way across the North Atlantic in the general area were too soon alerted to find out if they had any information and also to try to raise Flight 1414 on the radio as well just in case there was a problem with ground equipment… though unlikely with both air traffic control stations in two separate locations being unable to see or contact that aircraft.

    Yet, there was no contact made by those other aircraft and Canadian military radars too had no sign of Flight 1414. British Airways immediately made those involved aware that there was a certain passenger aboard that aircraft and then everything changed with the whole situation making it turn from a serious problem into a major incident.

    One of the two hundred and eighty-two reported people aboard (flight crew and passengers) was the British Prime Minister travelling to the United States.

    An immense search-&-rescue effort at once commenced. American, British and Canadian civilian and military assets were deployed at once to try to locate Flight 1414. Aircraft took to the skies and ships at sea were tasked with immediately deploying to the area at full speed. Downing Street, the White House, Sussex Drive, the MOD, the Pentagon, the Department of National Defence and intelligence agencies in all three countries were at once informed while British Airways was told to keep quiet. No one was yet saying that the aircraft carrying Prime Minister Daniel Collins had crashed until something more concrete was available rather than missing radar data and silent radio airwaves.

    Of course, very soon the news got out despite the best efforts to keep this secret.

    Flight 1414 never arrived as expected in New York. There were people waiting on the ground at the airport – civilians and airport staff – who became aware that the aircraft didn’t arrive. In Britain, there was panic at British Airways headquarters. An air traffic controller in Iceland, not directly part of the chain of contact that had been with the aircraft when it went missing but still present when it disappeared, went off duty and told some people he knew about a missing aircraft.

    The international media was fast to pick up on the fact that a trans-Atlantic airliner was being reported missing even if they didn’t know the identity of that one particular passenger aboard. Journalists flocked to JFK airport and to British Airways HQ at Harmondsworth near Heathrow. In addition, there were relatives and friends of those aboard Flight 1414 – in addition to the ‘interested’ – who converged upon the arrivals area at JFK along with the departures section at Heathrow.

    Everyone wanted to know what was going on while speculation, rumours and theories run wild. Terrorism was mentioned on the news even though there was nothing to point to that. British Airways was only one of many airlines which suddenly received a large volume of calls from those due to take other flights or who knew someone aboard a flight going somewhere, anywhere else asking about those and whether they were okay.

    Meanwhile, all sorts of attention was being paid to a wide area of the open ocean as aircraft and ships converged there as fast as they could. Maybe the aircraft had ditched successfully? Maybe there were people in the water who needed a rescue? Maybe there would be some sign of Flight 1414 still flying about?

    In London, senior Government figures were recalled to Whitehall by civil servants. Ministers, senior politicians and other important people were away on their holidays but were needed to meet at once. Information about what was known, rather little in fact, was shared with them. Flight 1414 was missing over the North Atlantic and the Prime Minister had been aboard. He was travelling with Downing Street officials and security people though on an unofficial visit to New York; his family wasn’t with him nor any other minister. There was no sign of terrorism yet and no confirmation at all that the aircraft had actually gone down.

    At the same time, there was no reason to fear anything but the worst. Hours passed by and no further news came – positive or negative – yet the absence of news wasn’t good at all. The Justice Secretary Matthew Green was contacted not long after he arrived in Whitehall by a journalist he knew with the BBC who was hesitant to ask but still did whether what he was hearing was true: was the Prime Minister aboard Flight 1414?

    And after that the media storm commenced.

    Within days, Britain had a new Prime Minister. Greg Owen was asked by the Queen to lead her government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted; he afterwards reshuffled his Cabinet somewhat. Tributes to the missing and presumed dead Daniel Collins came in from around the globe from world leaders, including the American President. There were tears shed for those others aboard Flight 1414 too yet the fact that the British Prime Minister had been one of those lost aboard that aircraft took almost all of the attention.

    Civilian and military enquiries at once commenced across the stretch of the ocean over where that British Airways aircraft had disappeared while intelligence agencies worldwide were stretched to the limit too. Everyone wanted to know what had happened to Flight 1414 but there were no answers. Was it terrorism? Had there been a malfunction? Were other aircraft at risk? Conspiracy theories were soon abound too and these would grow to legendary proportions with time.

    The mystery over what happened would never be solved. No wreckage was ever found of the aircraft let alone human remains. A huge effort to search the ocean flown for black box recorders from the aircraft wasn’t successful despite the very best technology being employed in that.

    No answers were forthcoming about what happened to Flight 1414.
  2. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    Well I guess that last sentence there finishes it up. Nothing else to say :D
  3. alexcoppo Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2014
    Just a note: when you are fliying over oceans, you just have HF communications and satellite links; on any other aspect, you are on your own. If your ADS-B transponder dies (or is switched off ;)) you simply vanish. Until you come near enough to land to get into military radars range, you can be anywhere and do anything.
  4. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

    Jan 17, 2015
    The heights of glory, the depths of despair.
    I think it's been a very long time since any British PM travelled by scheduled commercial flight. If ever. Possibly in the 1920s for unofficial travel.

    (I saw an interesting anecdote by Churchill about a 1922 meeting of Liberal Party leadership - then including him - that was held on the Riviera, where PM Lloyd George was staying. However LG probably travelled by train.)
  5. Dilvish Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2008
    Gastonia, NC
    Then why was the PM traveling on Flight 1414?! It's a sure sign of a conspiracy of some kind, I tell ya! :D
  6. Colonel Levnekov Discord/Reddit Emigre

    Sep 20, 2014
    Wilmette, Illinois
    Conspiracy theories......

    Quick question: shouldn't it be easier to try and find than Malaysia Air OTL?
  7. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    Yeah my first question was since when does the PM fly commercial?

    Also, shouldn't Rolls Royce have data on the engines. I know that's how they figured out the Malaysian flight was in the air for quite awhile.
  8. James G has taken down his work left the board Donor

    Dec 16, 2012
    Hull: where that culture has departed from
    I'm pretty sure that the British PM would take a commercial flight from the UK to NYC. There are no military aircraft nor government jets with such a range. In addition, I'm certain that if a jet was chartered for such a flight such a thing would have been a public scandal.
    There's been various incidents in the media about British PM's from Blair to Cameron being on regular scheduled airline flights.
    Hell, maybe I'm wrong... but I'm sure this is the case.