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MH-370 Possibly Skirted Indonesia to Avoid Radar Detection; Obama Speaks at High School About New Federal School Grants; Deep, Dark Ocean Makes MH-370 Search Difficult; Answering Viewer Questions About MH-370; Mickey Rooney Dead at 93.

Aired April 7, 2014 - 11:30   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, I think the way it was described is that they skirted Indonesian air space and whether that was an attempt to avoid radar may or may not have been the case of whoever was flying the aircraft at that time. We know at this point they that they weren't successful, at least not in disappearing completely, because they know of this information and we also know that various pings from the Inmarsat tracked the plane. So it didn't totally disappear.

But skirting around, could you avoid radar?

MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT: Absolutely, you could, if you knew the lay of the land, as it were, if you know the vertical and horizontal areas of the radar zone, with some careful planning, you could absolutely do that.

SAVIDGE: We're on that flight, in essence. We took off from Kuala Lumpur and we're flying toward Beijing. But Mitchell has programmed in what could have been the route where they changed course and wanted to make this maneuver. We can actually point it out to you here. This is us, the triangle, and we're headed up to Igari. That's not a place. It's really just a way point in the sky. You'll see here that the aircraft made a dramatic turn off course and begins to follow this rather winding and bending route to fly it back over the northern part of Malaysia, and this is the part that skirts around Indonesia.

You can do it that way by setting the autopilot, but there's another way you can do it?

CASADO: You just do it just by heading the heading select on the remote control panel.

SAVIDGE: Show us.

CASADO: Absolutely. So you just do a little bit of course correction, you choose the heading that you want, and then you press the button and the autopilot will take you.

SAVIDGE: And you can get a sense that the aircraft is tilting and moving here. So that's one way you could turn.

The other thing I would like to show you, though, when it comes to tries to hide from radar, this is my personal favorite scenario, but this is not really necessarily how it's done.

We need a keyboard back there, if you would be so kind, Rick.

We're going to bring up a vantage point that you can only do with the simulator here. Hang on one second. Bear with us. There it is.

And we can talk about trying to hide in the shadow another airplane. That would be another -- in this case, 777, you can pick another wide body or large aircraft, and you would try to fly right behind it.

Now this would require incredible coordination, you would have to know there is going to be one up there. It had to be a large body, but this could be done, right?

CASADO: Could be done, if you were, you know, really skilled at it and you had a really steady hand, you could do it.

SAVIDGE: But the thing is, we should point out, John and Michaela, is that following in the wake of one of these would be like you being in a little sports car, trying to follow in the wake behind a big semi. There's going to be so much buffeting, so much -- what's coming up behind that plane?

CASADO: It's called wake turbulence. It's akin to that wake that you get off the big ship that disrupts the surrounding water. I've got to say, just because I say it could be done, you would have to be insane to try to do something like this.

SAVIDGE: I agree. I think you do that for hours on end, it doesn't seem possible, but you could hide in their shadow, in theory.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Martin Savidge and Mitch Casado, great to have you up there in the simulator, explaining to us what things look like from us there. Really appreciate it.

Some other news to look at now. Oscar Pistorius tells his side of the story, testifying today in his murder trial. But even before doing that, the track star apologized to the family of Reeva Steenkamp. He seemed on the verge of tears. He was overwrought as he said he thinks of that family all the time.


OSCAR PISTORIUS, I would like to apologize. Since this tragedy has occurred, I have thoughts about the family. I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow that I have caused you and your family. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise you that she went to bed that night, she felt loved.


BERMAN: Ukraine's acting president blaming Russia's special forces for stirring up trouble in his country. Today, pro-Russian groups took over government buildings in three Ukrainian cities. They reportedly seized weapons in one and declared their own separate republic in another. Ukraine's prime minister says Moscow is trying to tear that country apart. Russia is now telling Ukraine to stop blaming Russia for its troubles. Also, officials in Kiev reporting a Russian soldier shot and killed a Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea. We're still waiting for more details on that situation.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, we're going to talk about a part of the ocean where the black box is, from flight 370. Searchers couldn't ask for a bigger challenge. That ocean is so dark, and it's so deep, it's named after the Greek word for "hell."


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. You're looking at President Obama right there. He's at a high school in Prince George's County, Maryland. He's talking about a new federal grant to help high school students to better prepare for colleges and also careers. Let's listen to what he says.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now let me tell you why this is so important. Many of the young people here, you've grown up in the midst of one of the worst economic crises of our lifetimes. And it's been hard and it's been painful. There are a lot of families that lost their homes, lost jobs, a lot of families that are still hurting out there. But the work that we have done, the ground work that we have laid has created a situation where we're moving in the right direction. Our businesses have created almost nine million new jobs over the last four years. Our high school graduation rate is the highest on record. Dropout rates are going down. Among Latinos, dropout rates have been cut in half since 2000.



BERMAN: We're going to keep our eye on this event. In Maryland, right now, the president talking to high school students right now. It's part of a week-long series of proposals that the president will be talking about to push his domestic agenda.

PEREIRA: Three schools in Prince George's County are being awarded as winners of the National Youth Career Connect Competition. So they can feel proud of their country right now where their kids are doing good stuff.

BERMAN: We'll get back to the hunt for flight 370 right now. Chasing the pings. The Australian vessel, "Ocean Shield," has picked up pings of what could be the dying batteries of flight 370's data recorders, so-called black boxes. This ship has sophisticated equipment on loan from the U.S. Navy. But the ocean is not giving up its secrets very easily.

PEREIRA: We talked before how unforgiving that area of the ocean is. We know that this part of the Indian Ocean is so very deep and it is so dark, it's called the Heydel Zone, which is after the Greek word for "hell."

BERMAN: I didn't know you were Greek?

PEREIRA: I'm learning.

You see it from San Francisco State's Oceanography website. The Heydel Zone is back down there.

Let's bring in our friend, Raghu Murtugudde, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland.

Good to see you.

We are talking about an area that is three miles deep. Talk to us about what the terrain on that ocean floor is like. Because it will give us an indication of how challenging -- if they detect something at the bottom of the ocean, how hard it's going to be to get to.

RAGHU MURTUGUDDE, PROFESSOR OF ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Yeah, I mean the Indian Ocean is unique. It has this 93-degree east ridge running down reaching the Diamantine Ridge to the west of Perth. But we are to the northwest. It gets closed off on the Indian continent, so the very heaviest waters in the world that inundate all oceans, also go into the Indian Ocean, so they have to come back up to the surface and go back down. These waters are so heavy, in fact, they do make the sound travel faster. So, Mary was mentioning the pings can only travel so far. The heavier water should make them travel faster.

BERMAN: That is very interesting because one of the things we have been talking about now is the possibility that the U.S. device used by the Australia ship was picking up the same pings that the Chinese vessel some 300 miles away -- another thing talking about how the U.S. ship picked this up over such a wide area. They were towing for about two and a half hour. So you are saying this dense water the sound travelers farther?

MURTUGUDDE: Yes. AS the density of the water increases, the speed of sound goes up. So already water is heavier than air so you have the speed of sound being four times faster in the water. And as the water gets heavier because of its so called Antarctic water that's coming in and you also have the Antarctic inter-medium water that's coming in, these are some of the heaviest water masses. So in the Indian Ocean, in this region, below got 1,500 meters, any pinging that's coming from the bottom should travel faster.

PEREIRA: OK, you talked about what it does to sounds. I'm curious what it does for the eyes, for visuals and light. How does that all change that deep, when you talk about the heavier ocean?

MURTUGUDDE: Once you get below about a half a mile from the surface, you basically have no light. Down to about half a mile to a mile, you have some diffused light. Below that, even sea creatures often generate their own light often to attract prey or to find a mate or whatever. Basically, it's incredibly dark, very high pressure. It's has a change in salinity. So near the surface, we know that, for example, when the submarines are slipping along, and they stick up their telescope or antennae out of the tower, if they hit a salinity grading, they could get chopped off. So when they do send stuff down there, they have to be mindful of these kinds of density gradients in the water.

BERMAN: Raghu Murtugudde, thank you so much. I think we learned a lot right here.

PEREIRA: Oh, my.

BERMAN: But it's interesting because the Blue Fin submersible, which will be traveling to those depths, it doesn't need to see, per se. It can do a SONAR map right there using different types of technology.

PEREIRA: Every time they do one of these searches, they learn more about what they need for next time. I'm sure some of this technology has come from past situations.

BERMAN: If they get lucky this one time, this will be unprecedented.

PEREIRA: Certainly need it.

Coming up, we're going to have more about the search and mystery surrounding this flight. You can tweet your questions to #370qs. Don't forget we're on facebook/atthishour.

BERMAN: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, it's being called the best lead in the search for flight 370. But what exactly are search crews hearing out there in the Indian Ocean? What does it all mean? We'll answer your questions that we just asked for, coming up next.


BERMAN: Still so many unanswered questions in the search for flight 370. Many of you have been tweeting us your questions or posting them on Facebook.

PEREIRA: These are conversations everybody's having at home, at work, around the office.

Our experts, Jeff Wise and Mary Schiavo, are here and they're going to answer the questions that we put to you.

Why don't we start with you?

BERMAN: The first one, talking about this new search area and the new pings they detected, and Jeff, does the area where they detected these pings, does it match the out-of-gas scenario where the plane ran out of fuel.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST & PILOT: Yes. This is sort of towards the end of that famous southern ark we've seen around the end of the Southern Indian Ocean. We don't know what altitude the plane was flying at, the speed it was flying at. We don't know what the fuel burn rate was. So, we can't definitively say, yes, this is where exactly it ran out of gas. But it does match it. It's consistent, I should say.

PEREIRA: The second question, to Mary, is, does a pilot have any control over how much fuel is put on the plane? I would imagine the answer is no, am I right?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Oh, yes. Oh, no, he does, or she does.

PEREIRA: It does?

SCHIAVO: Absolutely. If you're getting ready for a trip, like you're going to Beijing, you have to have, at least by U.S. laws -- and other countries have the same. It's actually an ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization guideline. You have to have enough to get to your destination, plus your emergency destination. If you can't get into Beijing, you have to have another airport that you're designated as your second destination. And then 10 percent beyond that, each country varies, and that's how much fuel you're supposed to have. But if you check the weather, you're starting your trip and you are looking at everything and you think you'll hit head winds or you have got an especially heavy load or you're concerned, you can call for more fuel. And we have learned that these pilots did not call for more fuel. But you can. You can take and put more on if you decide you want it.

PEREIRA: That's interesting, Mary, because I would have assumed -- this shows I'm not an aviation expert or even have my own pilot's license -- because you would think you would just simply fill up the tank so you would get there, and if you had to take a detour. Very interesting.

BERMAN: She says you can, but --

PEREIRA: But. But.

BERMAN: -- they didn't.


BERMAN: So it's one of these things in this case they seem to know.

Jeff, let me ask you this here. One of the things that people have been talking about all along is that tow pinger locators, like mowing the ocean. It would be a miracle to detect anything right now. When you heard the news breaking overnight that they detected these pings, did it make you think that they have more information that they're not telling us? Because that's what I thought. I thought, for them to get a detection the first time they put that thing in the water, it would take more than a miracle.

WISE: Right. This has been one of the burning questions of this whole investigation. They seem very confident about the steps they've taken. There's very little we know as the public that would lead us to share that kind of confidence. The assumption has always been, well, they must know something else. Well, when they ran into that first search area they demarcated very early, it seemed like the Malaysian prime minister went on air -- actually was in front of parliament and said, this is a very promising lead, we found this debris, and it seemed like they had a lot of confidence in what they were talking about. And then a few days later, boom, they were off looking somewhere else. So you do really have to wonder, do they know something or do they not know something additional?

And, yes, it would be one-in-a-million kind of miracle if, in the absence of finding any floating debris, which as Mary pointed out earlier in the show, this plane, if it crashed in the ocean, should have generated a lot of debris. So the fact that we hadn't found anything floating and yet we found this pinger is strange.

PEREIRA: It is strange.

Jeff Wise, Mary Schiavo, as always, thanks so much for your expertise.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, light sabers, camera, action. Apparently, filming has begun on a new "Star Wars" film. Are you going to see it?

BERMAN: Oh, yeah, are you kidding me, absolutely. I live for "Star Wars."

Plus, oh, man, you can just see the smile right there. A good-bye to one of Hollywood's true icons. The life and career of Mickey Rooney.


PEREIRA: You know you've been dying to talk about this all day, right? If anyone predicts UConn will be playing Kentucky tonight, we want that person to be playing our lottery ticket numbers for us. That's because this was not the final that most people had in their brackets.

Did you anticipate that?

BERMAN: Oh, man, no. I wish I did. I got nothing left.


Kentucky and Connecticut face off tonight in the NCAA men's basketball championship. Technically speaking, this is the first time an eight seed and seven seed have met in the championship. I happen to think Kentucky as an eight seed is absurd.

We'll let Andy Scholes speak to that. He is where the action is happening in Arlington, Texas.

Andy, great to see you.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN BLEACHER REPORT: Yeah, good to see you guys, too.

No one had this game in their bracket. The only people that might have had it is the students at UConn and Kentucky or maybe some of the alumni for some of the two schools because the run these two teams have been on have been absolutely amazing over the last few weeks. The entire season has been quite a journey for the young Kentucky Wildcats. At the start of the season, they were the preseason number- one team in the country after bringing in arguably the best freshman class ever. Fans were so confident before the season they were wearing 40-0 T-shirts. But the team, they did go through plenty of growing pains during the season, they dropped out of the top 25 right before the tournament, but through it all, this group of 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds never lost focus of their goal.


AARON HARRISON, KENTUCKY GUARD: We're playing for each other. I knew that once we got the little things together, that we could be a great team.

JULIUS RANDLE, KENTUCKY FORWARD: We just had too much talent and, you know, we saw in spurts how good we could be so just felt like it was a matter of time before it clicked.


SCHOLES: One Kentucky fan actually saw this run coming all along. Tyler Austin Black, he got a tattoo back in March that said "2014 National Championships." People called him crazy back then, but now, guys, he's just one win away from looking like a genius.

PEREIRA: My goodness.

BERMAN: Also cleanly shaved.


A little bit disconcerting to me.

SCHOLES: A terrible spot for a tattoo.

PEREIRA: I watched the game with a lot of Wildcat Kentucky fans in my apartment here in New York City, and let me tell you, it got loud because that game was insane. That buzzer, you know, at the last second, that three-point shot. Aaron Henderson is one to watch. They're set up well for next season no matter what happens tonight.

SCHOLES: Yeah, you know what, Michaela, you were breaking up there for a second. And there's actually a garbage truck --


-- so I couldn't hear you that well.


SCHOLES: But there's going to be a lot of fans excited about tonight's game.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

Just agree, Michaela. It's what I do.


BERMAN: Just nod your head and say, yes, you're absolutely right.

We have a couple other stories. First up, good news for "Star Wars" fans, which is actually really important news for everyone, frankly. The latest installment of the "Star Wars" series, episode seven, has started filming.

PEREIRA: According to the "Hollywood Reporter," who spoke with Disney Studios Chairman Allen Horn about, you can imagine, a big-budget production. Don't get to excited and try to run down and try to buy a ticket yet because the new film does not even hit theaters until December 2015.

BERMAN: I know I speak for every human on earth and mostly young boys who hope these films make up for the first three, you know, "The Phantom Menace" and those ones.

PEREIRA: Hollywood also saying good-bye to an acting legend. Mickey Rooney died Sunday at the age of 93.


MICKEY ROONEY, ACTOR: There's something about a high-class ice cream soda that makes a fellow feel as through he's wasting time on eating vegetables. Ain't it the truth?

Hello, Cynthia.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: How do you do, Mr. Hardy?


BERMAN: This guy could really do anything. Way back in 1937, he landed the role of Andy Hardy, a character he revisited in a series of 15 films. He wasn't just one of the biggest stars in Hollywood's golden age. He stayed at it well into his 80s, with roles in a ton of movies, including the comedy hit "Night at the Museum" back in 2000.

PEREIRA: He is credited with more than 200 films and television appearances. But the end of his life wasn't easy. He testified before Congress about abuse of the elderly. So he obviously had some challenges but he's certainly put smiles on so many faces.

BERMAN: 80 years in the business.

PEREIRA: Yeah. That's it for us @ THIS HOUR. I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.