By Juliet Perry CNN | http://www.ktvq.com/
(CNN) — The man who has traveled across the Indian Ocean finding potential pieces of debris from missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, including a number of personal items, says he won’t stop until the mystery is solved.
Blaine Gibson, a U.S. lawyer from Seattle, is spearheading a self-funded hunt for the missing plane in an exhaustive search that has taken him from the Maldives to Mauritius and Myanmar.
“I’ve been very involved in the search for Malaysia 370, just out of personal interest and in a private group — not in a for-profit way or journalistic way,” Gibson told CNN in March.
MH370’s disappearance is one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. The plane vanished from radar while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, with 239 people on board, on March 8, 2014.
“I went for the one-year commemoration in Kuala Lumpur and met some of the family members and families, and it inspired me to keep on looking.”
He has trawled beaches, spoken to witnesses and interviewed people who have reported debris — all in an effort to discover the truth of what happened to the ill-fated flight.
“Most experts and the official search authorities believe the plane flew south rather than north,” Gibson wrote in a blog on his search. “However one year of searching the Southern Indian ocean has failed to discover any debris.”
A happy discovery?
His first discovery came during a holiday. “Mozambique is really separate from this — even though it’s on the Indian Ocean. I didn’t come here to look for the plane,” he said.
“It was my 177th country to visit. I’m here as a tourist, but since I’m passionately interested in MH370, and I am on the Indian Ocean I thought, ‘Why not take a boat out and ask some of the local people where stuff washed ashore from the open ocean?'”
Gibson and the owner of the boat he chartered for the weekend found the plane part washed ashore on a sandbar.
“What went through my mind when I found it is that this is something that could be part of an airplane and could be part of that airplane,” Gibson said, referring to MH370.
The story of such a discovery might have seemed even too perfect.
“It seems so unlikely, too, but the thing is nature works in mysterious ways,” Gibson said. “Why does the ocean do what it does? I don’t know. Maybe this is part of that plane, maybe this is part of another. It’s small and it’s very light so maybe it’s just from some light aircraft. It would just be so unbelievable if it actually is from 370. That’s exactly what went through my mind.”
After analyzing the pieces, Australian officials confirmed that they were “highly likely” to have come from MH370.
“The search must go on”
Since his first discovery, Gibson has discovered several other pieces of potential debris from the plane, including a section of Rolls Royce engine cowling found in South Africa in March.
In June 2016, Gibson discovered between 15 to 20 washed-up personal items on a Madagascar beach, including a small backpack, a computer case and several cabin-sized carry-on items.
Gibson said the new personal items were discovered on the same beach as a number of his other MH370 finds and they needed to be investigated.
“I took pictures of them, collected them and I turned the pictures over to family members so they could share among themselves and see if they recognized anything,” he told CNN.
But Gibson said although Malaysian investigators still hadn’t collected another five pieces of wreckage he had found in his ongoing search for MH370, he wasn’t going to stop.
“Until I or someone else finds the plane and the truth about what happened to it and the passengers, [I’ll keep going]. The search must go on, it can’t stop when the present search area is exhausted. We have to solve this mystery.”