Malaysia Airlines flight 370 on Google Maps

Alice/Adobe Stock karolina/Adobe Stock Björn Wylezich/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

The missing Malaysian Airlines flight wasn’t just discovered using Google Maps

The claim goes viral every couple of years.


Marlon Ettinger


British tabloid the Daily Mirror reported last weekend that the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was “solved” by U.K. “expert” Ian Wilsons using Google Maps, saying he found the remains of the crash in a jungle in Cambodia. 

But this isn’t the first time there have been misleading reports that he cracked the case. A Cambodian government official called the report false and pointed out that the new coverage consisted of recycled claims made years ago. 

The plane, which disappeared in unknown circumstances along with all 239 of its passengers on a Kuala Lumpur to Beijing trip, has been missing since March 2014.

Since then, tabloids have repeatedly published claims about Ian Wilson and his brother Jackie’s search for the plane. Ian Wilson claims to be a tech expert. A locked Instagram account for a man with the same name and photograph says that he’s a “Digital video manager.” 

According to a 2018 report from the Daily Star, Wilson is a “U.K.-based video producer” who found the alleged crash site because he’s “on Google Earth all the time.” The same year, the brothers claimed to have physically searched the Cambodian jungle for the plane but turned back after the going got too tough.

A report a few weeks later by Cambodia News English claimed that the whole discovery and search was half-hearted at best.

“Wilson and his brother arrived in Kampong Spue province with no plan, no experience, a poor choice of equipment and just a few days to achieve their goal,” the website wrote. “After being denied permission from the district authorities, the intrepid pair, with the aid of a local expat (and the advice of his 81 year old father: ‘Take some bananas’), set out to the base of Aural mountain.”

The brothers convinced some park rangers to bring them to the crash site but struggled with the conditions.

“After a few hours, encounters with illegal loggers and a couple of miles in, the boys gave up, returned to the ranger base and were back in Phnom Penh before 10pm the same night,” the article added.

British tabloids republished Wilson’s claims in 2023, according to a Newsweek report, which found that the images they claimed were of the crashed plane have been visible online since 2004, ten years before the plane disappeared.

The latest reports of the find seem to be a similar case of republishing the reports or updating the publication date on the article, as the same quotations from Wilson are used again. A reporter for the Daily Mirror didn’t immediately answer questions about why the story was updated.

Meanwhile, Sin Chanserivutha, Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State and Civil Aviation Director, debunked the recycled reports.

“Mr. Sin confirmed that The Mirror’s coverage of MH370 in Cambodia was false and pointed out that both the content of the information and the published image had been published once about 8 years ago and had just been revised the date of publication again recently, which created confusion,” reported the Cambodia-based Khmer Times.

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