On March 31, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. Incredibly, over a year later, it has not yet been found. The plane, a Boeing 777 with 239 passengers and crew aboard, was enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it made a sudden turn, flew on for hours, then disappeared. At present, the only search being conducted is taking place in the southern Indian Ocean where officials are confident that the plane will be found. There are 10 possible debris fields remaining to be explored before the Austral winter, which starts in May, will make navigation too hazardous to continue the search.

But is Flight 370 really there? On Dreamland this week, Whitley Strieber explores that and many other possibilities with George Noory, whose new book Someone is Hiding Something is the result of extensive research on the subject. Among other things, the possibility that the plane ended up at the vast US Diego Garcia base is discussed. Another theory, and an ominous one, has been put forward by New Zealand researcher Jeff Wise that the plane was hijacked   by Russian commandos who were aboard the flight. (Satellite image of mysterious space on Russian airfield. Built in the months before Flight 370 disappeared, it is exactly the right size to conceal a Boeing 777.)

Writing in New York Magazine, Wise says that what first suggested to him that the plane may have been stolen by Russia was the discovery of a strange outline at a Russian cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The base was built to accommodate the Russian space shuttle. That project was abandoned, but the Yubeleyny Runway at the site is the only runway in the world specially designed for auto-landing aircraft. The Boeing 777 can be autolanded. Examining satellite images of the base, Wise discovered a strange outline at the end of the runway, a large square that is just the right size to conceal a Boeing 777. As long as an individual knows the right autopilot settings, they can get a 777 on the ground without actually being pilots.

Wise discovered that one of the passengers aboard the aircraft was a Russian sitting in first class within 15 feet of the hatch that led to the electronic equipment bay from which the plane could be controlled by an individual with knowledge of how to do it. Additionally, they could change the plane’s electronic transmissions, making it appear that it was going in the opposite direction of its actual flight path.

So, was the plane diverted to Russia? Researchers in the Indian Ocean anticipate finding it there soon. If it was diverted to Russia, then an extremely dangerous situation exists. This is because the plane could be refitted with an atomic weapon and, by adding fuel capacity, could be flown essentially anywhere in the world. It could be given a new identity and inserted into the worldwide flight control system as an ordinary airliner.

The motive would be simple: destroy Washington DC. There is practically nothing else Vladimir Putin can do that would enable him to fulfill his ambition of restoring the Russian Empire in Eastern Europe. With collapsing oil prices and pressing sanctions, Putin otherwise faces an inevitable erosion of power and, in the end, a probably coup or revolution that will destroy his rule.