One of the more comprehensive explanations came from George Jehn, a former Eastern pilot who published a 2014 book about the crash called Final Destination: Disaster. In it he theorizes that a bomb went off, depressurized the plane, and sucked all the bodies out of the cabin. Then he speculates that either Eastern or the NTSB hired Bernardo Guarachi to get rid of the flight recorders as a way of halting further inquiry into the crash, for fear that a full investigation would have revealed that the airline was running drugs for President Ronald Reagan. It’s a convoluted plot, too far-fetched to take seriously, but seductive as hell to those looking to explain the inexplicable.
“Not one body, not one body part, no bloodstains. Why not?” Jehn said when we spoke in May. “It’s the single greatest aviation mystery of the 20th century.”
But the case of Flight 980 is about as cold as they come. Any remaining clues have been locked in the ice of a Bolivian glacier for decades. Trying to solve it would combine the dangers of high-altitude mountaineering with the long odds of treasure hunting—a losing hand almost every time.