A nine hour search of the Indian Ocean by the world's most sophisticated search plane failed to locate the objects spotted by a satellite that investigators believe could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, instead finding only a freighter and two pods of dolphins.
The hunt by the P-8 Poseidon airplane is an indication of how difficult it will be to find the objects spotted by a satellite or any debris in the vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean.
The military airplane is considered so sophisticated that civilians cameras were confiscated so photos could not be taken on board.
The search area is so remote that it took the Poseidon three hours of flying to arrive over the area part way to the South Pole and 1,300 miles west of Australia.
While en route to the area, the plane was diverted because of promising intelligence of possible debris in the water. Once on station, the plane descended through rain and clouds to skim just 300 feet above the water. Radar and powerful cameras beneath the plane scanned the ocean for 16 miles on either side of the plane. Searchers were posted at all of the plane's windows.
The plane worked back and fourth through its search area in a lawn mowing pattern. Its radar picked up several hits, but one turned out to be a freighter. Two others were pods of dolphins.
The Poseidon had enough fuel to scan for three hours and cover 4,100 square miles before having to begin the three hour trip back to its base north of Perth, Australia. The crew was disappointed that it hadn't found anything, but aware that another chunk of ocean could be checked off the search list.
The P-8 was one of four search planes scouring the area looking for the objects and any other telltale debris.