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Flight path of Oceanic 815
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The pilot and flight attendant are lying
The pilot and flight attendant are part of a larger conspiracy. They are lying about the flight path in order to deceive the survivors.
- If Oceanic 815 reversed course under visual flight rules, the passengers would probably have noticed. They would have felt the turn and noticed the changed direction of the sun, coming in from the opposite side of the cabin. Almost certainly, frequent travelers (which we can expect on a transPacific flight) and aviation-savvy passengers such as Sayid, would have noticed. Yet none of the survivors have ever mentioned this... except two members of the crew, one of whom was apparently killed by the security system immediately after sharing this information, and the other who disappeared mysteriously, perhaps captured by the Others.
- Under NORDO conditions, the pilot should have continued his planned route.
- From the estimated turnaround position, Pago Pago International Airport in American Somoa is the nearest divert airport. It has a 10kft asphalt runway, the same as NAN. There doesn't seem to be any good reason to prefer Fiji.
- Both of the surviving aircrew, when talking about the flight path, say very similar things, as if reciting a rehearsed line: "They don't know where to look" and "They're looking for us in the wrong place."
- Their stories are consistent.
- Maybe he had more experience landing at NAN than Pago Pago, so he went with NAN.
- The repetition of "They're looking for us in the wrong place" is just an important plot point that the writers repeated for emphasis.
The pilot got lost
The first effect of the electromagentic field wasn't turbulence, but knocking out the radio and flight following and causing errors in the compass and other navigation aids. The pilot thought he was heading toward Fiji, but he was being drawn off course.
- Explains the loss of radio and flight following.
- Explains how the island could be so close to Fiji and the flight route SYD-LAX and remain unobserved -- because it ain't there.
- The Black Rock, the Elizabeth, Rousseau's ship and the drug-smuggler's plane all arrived at the island under unusual circumstances -- seriously off-course, lost or caught by freak storms. Conditions in or around the island appears to be "pulling them in." This jibes with the theory that the pilot was lost.
- Since the loss of radio and flight following happened two hours before the crash, or 120 minutes, it happened before the System Failure that initiated 108 minutes after Desmond last pushed the button Unless it took 12 minutes to the field to build up, and then Desmond took about two more hours to get back to the Swan.
- Since Oceanic 815 was under visual flight rules, an experienced pilot (and the pilot was a four-striper) could have told they were significantly off-course by observing the position of the Sun.