1977 MH653 Flight Incident

Many Malaysians probably do not remember how deep MH653 flight incident has shaped Malaysian aviation history. Prior to 4 December 1977, Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 is a regularly-scheduled passenger flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. However, on that day, the plane was hijacked. It eventually crashed into a mangrove swamp in Johor after failing to land at Kuala Lumpur (Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport, Subang).

The perpetrators of the hijack have never been identified until today, resulting in MH 653 being one of the greatest aviation mystery of all time.

MH 653 Passengers

A total of 100 lives onboard perished during the crash. Out of 100, 7 of them are crew members and another 93 are passengers. A number of high-profile figures board the plane.

The Aircraft

The aircraft is a Boeing 737-200, registered to Malaysian Airlines System – MAS, bearing the registration number 9M-MBD. The aircraft made its first flight on 12 September 1972.

  • Registration: 9M-MBD
  • Type: Boeing 737-2H6
  • MSN: 306
  • First Flight: 12 September 1972
  • Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15



Approximately at 7:54 PM, while the aircraft was descending towards Runway 33 of Subang Airport, Subang Tower was alerted about hijacker’s presence onboard.

Preparations were made at Subang Airport, anticipating the worst. However, the aircraft did not land at the airport as the hijacker demanded to be flown to Singapore. Then, the aircraft climed to FL210 (Flight Level 21,000 ft) and proceeded towards Singapore.

As the aircraft flies through Johorean airspace, the aircraft disappeared from radar. A

As the aircraft continues the journey towards Singapore, authorities observed the aircraft carried out unusual pitch up and pitch down maneuvers. The aircraft disappeared from radar while en route to Singapore.

Immediate reaction


It was 8:36 PM when the residents of Kampong Ladang, Tanjung Kupang, Johor heard a loud explosion and saw burning wreckage in a swamp.


The report concluded that the crash happened because the crew were fatally incapacitated and the aircraft was not professionally controlled afterwards.

Malaysian government has decided to bury the remains of the victims together in a mass grave. The mass grave is now known as Tanjung Kupang memorial in Jalan Kebun Teh.

Decades after

On March 31st 2014, Ruth Parr said she has not known the truth. Parr was 19 when her father, Thomas, died in the crash.


  1. CNN report written by Pamela Boykoff and Saima Mohsin
  2. ASN page about the aircraft involved, 9M-MBD
  3. The Star article about MH653 Flight Incident memory

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