Tonawanda man believes he has link to Malaysia mystery

TONAWANDA, NY (WIVB) – It’s been almost two months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. Since then, crews have been searching tirelessly for any sign of the plane. A Tonawanda man is lending a helping hand.

Michael Hoebel has been using a crowd-sourcing website, looking at satellite images available to the public, trying to find the missing airliner.

He says he found one image that raised questions. It was taken days after the crash and he believes it clearly shows the plane in the water, fully intact.

“You can see the break right here,” Hoebel said. “Just in front of the wing is this first breach here. Another thing here is, the lighter skin where the wing attaches to the fuselage. You see that lighter skin. Now look at the image of the 777-200 series. That raised area, that’s what you see coming back [to the original picture].”

This picture was found on a website called TomNod.com. It allows the public to go through millions of satellite pictures to help investigate the crash.

“I was taken aback, because I couldn’t believe I would find this.”

CBS News reports 90 percent of the target area off the coast of Australia has been searched with no result. Hoebel, on the other hand, says the wreckage he found is actually off the coast of Malaysia.

On the site, you can see if there are any others who agree with your find. No one else has tagged Hoebel’s image as suspect.

Hoebel believes it’s because he’s the only one who’s found it and wants to “let the image speak for itself,” he said.

Hoebel says he had to search through tens of thousands of tiny pictures to find this series of satellite images.

As a recreational pilot, he felt a deep connection to the crew and families who’ve lost loved ones. He hopes his find is the missing link.

Hoebel says he’s reached out to the NTSB and the FBI to alert them to his find. They have not responded to his package that was sent via FedEx.

He says he used a scale on the bottom of the image to compare the image he found to the specs on the Boeing website. He says the size of the purported wreckage is a perfect match.

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