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Up to date as of February 07, 2010

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Main Article Theories about
Mid-air break-up
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 Theories may be removed if ... 
  1. Stated as questions or possibilities (avoid question marks, "Maybe", "I think", etc).
  2. More appropriate for another article.
  3. Illogical or previously disproven.
  4. Proven by canon source, and moved to main article.
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  • This does not include responses that can stand alone as its own theory.
  • Usage of an indented bullet does not imply the statement is a response.

See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.


Electromagnetic pull caused by System Failure

Oceanic 815 had mid-air break-up due to electromagnetic pull. This was triggered by Desmond's failure to push the button on 22 September, 2004, the same day as the crash. This resulted in a System Failure that involved an intense magnetic field from behind the concrete wall in the Swan. By the time Desmond was able to enter the numbers, the airframe of Oceanic 815 had undergone such violent stress that it disintegrated.

  • Pro:
    • In "Further Instructions", we see that the discharge has caused to the Swan to implode into a deep, featureless, conical hole. This demonstrates that the forces involved in the Swan are extremely powerful.
    • From the Barracks vantage point, the break-up seems strangely surgical, as if the fuselage had been ripped by some exterior force. The black bands that appear around the points of seperation are probably metal fatigue marks caused by stress.
    • First, Oceanic 815 loses its radio. Then it experiences increasing turbulence, descends and breaks up. These behaviors seem compatible with being under the growing influence of an electromagnetic field that acts like a "tractor-beam."
    • Except for the right engine, the only evidence of explosions are booming noises. If the first piece seen flying off the airframe is the forward cargo door, it appears intact, even undamaged, as if it had popped off due to a failure of its latch caused by stress, rather than an explosion in the cargo hold.
    • A Boeing 777 is 11% ferrous. This means that it can be pulled by an electromagentic field. Because most of the aircraft is not ferrous, such a pull would cause uneven stress on the airframe, perhaps contributing to its break-up.
    • According to the Swan Orientation Film, the Swan, DHARMA Initiative Station number 3, was originally a laboratory "where scientists could work to understand the unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from this sector of the island".
    • One of the Hanso Foundation projects is the Electromagnetic Research Initiative.
    • It may be the intent of the writers/producers that all the problems with this theory are explained away by the single word "unique" in the phrase "unique electromagnetic fluctuations."
  • Con:
    • A Boeing 777 is 89% nonferrous, so the electromagentic field would have to be that much stronger to pull on the aircraft.
    • Unless the electromagnetic field was somehow focused, the distance of the aircraft at cruise altitude would require such an immensely powerful electromagnetic field that every piece of ferrous metal on the island would have been been at least distorted, probably ripped apart. Also, the electromagnetic pulse from such an event would probably have damaged or destroyed all electronics on the island. While there was some reaction by metal during the system failures and the discharge, the effects were not of this magnitude, and some electronic gear survived all these events.
      • Furthermore, it is hard to believe that the electromagnetism being built up can go from being safe to being able to pull down a plane, only a few minutes after the 108 minute threshold.

Security system

The security system caused the break-up.

  • Pro:
    • As shown during the killing of Eko, the Monster can exert considerable force on solid objects when required.
    • The black "smoke" seen around Oceanic 815 from the Barracks may not be smoke, but perhaps in fact the security system.
    • The black bands that appear at the points of separation of the tail and nose sections may be evidence of the security system at work. Cracks due to structural failure would not be regular, black bands. The band for the nose section is forward of the right engine, and both bands appear before it explodes, so they are not likely to be the result of fractures caused by pieces from its explosion. Can we actually see the security system at work?
    • If the security system did break-up Oceanic 815 in flight, perhaps it also exerted an influence over the fuselage pieces in order to allow some passengers to survive. This would explain how so many passengers survived, many with very minor injuries. The event, in fact, could have been meticulously planned and executed. This might also explain the retrograde behavior of the tail section.
  • Con:
    • The Monster has not yet demonstrated an ability to fly at the heights and speed of an aircraft.
      • Furthermore, it seemed to be blocked by the sonar fence in "Left Behind", while Kate, Sayid, and Locke were able to climb over the barrier in "Par Avion".
    • The smoke trailing the aircraft is from fire from right engine, which, as seen from the Barracks, is in flames prior to exploding.
    • There was no evidence of black smoke or the monster when the tail section is seen crashing into the surf.
    • The object that causes the left engine explosion was not the monster.
      • It could have just been scrap, pulled toward the intake, but deflected by the outer part of the engine. Part of it could have come off and caused the explosion.
      • The object could just have been a "striker" used to create the explosion special effect.
      • The theory that the left engine explosion was caused by the Smoke Monster has been denied by writer/executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who furthermore stated that the monster does not appear in the form of a black cloud of smoke anywhere in the Pilot episode or The Other 48 Days episode. (See here and here).

The "Monster" is the plane crash

The monster is the plane crash seen in "A Tale of Two Cities". Few dispute that the monster can cause visions. No Flight 815 survivors remember actually crashing; all narrative accounts are those of waking up (e.g., Jack waking up in the trees; Ana Lucia waking up underwater; etc.). This perspective posits that the plane was seized intentionally by some force; and was scattered around the island by the same force; but these events may not have happened on the same day, or perhaps even weeks apart, with the passengers held in some kind of stasis. The illusion of a plane crash is provided to the Others in "A Tale of Two Cities". Desmond's 'system failure' may have been activated by the same unknown instigator of the plane seizure, to give him the illusion of a single-event plane crash that he caused. This perspective is also supported by the vision Locke had of the beechcraft crash. Locke never saw the beechcraft really crash, but the experience was real to him. There may be a similar principle at work in "A Tale of Two Cities".

  • Kate states that she did not black out and remembers the entire event.

The Nose and Midsection didn't crash

Graphic of fall of fragments, based on screenshot from A Tale of Two Cities. Graphic shows: * Contrails in thick white lines * Trail of smoke from falling fragment as solid olive line * Position of the Barracks * Columns of smoke rising from two crash sites * Flight path in blue * Position of disintegration as red dot, with red line showing spot of ground directly under point of disintegration, seaward of the Barracks * Estimate fall paths of fragments in thin white lines, based on contrails

The nose and midsection managed to land under some control. As part of a larger conspiracy, the survivors were captured, sedated and medically tended to, and then had their memories altered in a way similar to Claire's when she was abducted. The nose section was then placed in the jungle and the mid-section on the beach. Jack and other vicitms of the conspiracy were then placed on the beach and revived. The Tailies were of no interest to the conspiracy; their survival was a fluke.

  • Pro
    • Against incredible odds, many Losties survived the mid-air break-up and crash with only minor injuries.
      • Jack was ejected from his seat and landed on his back directly on the ground. (For extra measure, he landed in the middle of a thick bamboo grove, avoiding impalement.) Wounds: scratches on face, small gash on back.
    • The crash pieces on the beach seem arranged. Especially strange is the still functioning left engine.
    • We have yet to see those two sections crashing.
    • The pilot is found, imparts critical information, and then is immediately killed, off-camera, by the Monster. A mangled corpse wearing a pilot uniform is then seen up in the tree. The fact that he is killed off-camera may indicate his death was faked as part of the conspiracy.
    • Being of no interest to the conspirators explains why the Tailies had a much worse 48 days. They weren't meant to survive, so they were hunted down, and all of them captured or killed by day 65, except Bernard. They survived only because of a fluke: the tail section assumed a sledding position after tumbling. Their survival was not part of the conspiracy.
    • Locke was paralyzed for four years before the crash. He comes to consciousness on his back and discovers that he can walk again. Rather than being the result of some magical healing property of the island, this recovery was due to medical intervention prior to being placed on the beach.
      • Rose's cancer may have been cured by the same intervention, and Sun may have been impregnated by someone unknown during this time.
    • As shown in the graphic to the right, at least one fragment maintained enough lift and thrust that its slope is relatively gentle (shown gliding left to the leftmost point of impact). The only fragment that we know maintained some lift/thrust is the mid-section/nose/left engine/right wing.
  • Con
    • The Losties survived as an exercise of dramatic license. With no survivors, or only a few horribly wounded survivors, it wouldn't be much of a show.
    • Seeing the crashes is being saved for a later season; or, will remain unseen because we already know what happened: the mid-section crashed on the beach.
    • The pieces look arranged because they were, by the production crew. The crash site was created as realistically as possible, given budget, time and environmental constraints.
    • The pilot was killed off-camera in order to make the Monster more scary and mysterious.
    • Ben tells Ethan Rom and Goodwin to run to the crash sites, saying they will get there within an hour, and infiltrate the groups. They do so, with no indication of any delay that this conspiracy would require.
      • ...unless the break-up witnessed in A Tale of Two Cities was an illusion, like Locke's vision of the beechcraft, perhaps provided for their benefit.
    • No such intervention is seen in "The Other 48 Days". Twenty-two of the Tailies survived the crash, 19 of whom were ambulatory. This is similar to the results of the mid-section crash.
    • In "Pilot, Part 1", some survivors on the beach are wounded, bleeding and dying. Their wounds are fresh. These don't appear to have been subjected to any blackout period, during which wounds were tended to. Jack, a highly competent surgeon, never mentions that he noticed anything strange about the wounds.
    • After having gone to such trouble to save and place the survivors, why would the conspirators subject them to fuel spills, revving engines and unstable wings?
    • The trails of the falling sections suggest that the nose and midsection did in fact crash.The graphic on right illustrates that there was a separation of two pieces on the left, after the main point of disintegration. The estimated fall paths of these two pieces are compatible with what we know about the crash sites of the nose section and middle section. The fragment that glides off to the extreme left could be a piece that coincidentally retains some lift, such as one of the two rectangular pieces.

This article uses material from the "Mid-air break-up/Theories" article on the Lostpedia wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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