This undated photo provided by the Wood family shows Philip Wood, an IBM executive who was aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing on March 8, 2014. / AP
KELLER, Texas - Aubrey Wood is trusting in CNN, IBM and daily updates from his family for details on the whereabouts of his eldest son, Philip Wood, who disappeared March 8 on a Malaysia Airlines flight to Beijing.
But mostly, he's entrusting a higher power.
"We're putting it in God's hands," Wood, 76, said in an interview with USA TODAY. "I personally feel he's still alive. â?¦ We believe they're somewhere on land. And we're going to find him."
The disappearance of Flight 370 has ignited a raft of conspiracy theories, baffled investigators and thrust families and friends of Philip Wood, an IBM employee from Texas on that flight, onto a roller coaster ride of emotions - from initially believing the plane had crashed to kindling hope it had been hijacked and the 239 people aboard are still alive somewhere.
Less than an hour into its five-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the Boeing 777's transponder stopped signaling its location to air-traffic controllers, sparking speculation that the plane was overtaken by hijackers. In the final radio contact from the plane, the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, said, "All right, good night." Later, Malaysian military radar tracked the plane banking a steep left turn and heading hundreds of miles off course.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that the jet's abrupt turn was programmed into the onboard computer at least 12 minutes before Hamid calmly signed off, further fueling speculation of human intervention. Rescue teams from 26 countries continue to scour more than 2 million square nautical miles for signs of the plane.
Aubrey Wood said he was suspicious from the start that something more sinister than a crash had occurred. The lack of things usually associated with plane crashes â?? airplane fuselage and radio signals â?? pointed to foul play, he said.
"We were always of the opinion that someone did something strange in that cockpit," he said. "From the very beginning, we said, 'He's not dead.' "
Shortly after the plane went missing, Aubrey Wood received phone calls from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and officials at IBM, from which he retired in 1991 after working 31 years, informing him the plane Philip Wood had boarded had disappeared and was believed to have crashed. But then reports about the plane's lack of signaling and questions about the pilots' backgrounds led to more questions â?? and hope, he said.
Though he hardly watched the news network before, Aubrey Wood began tuning in to CNN, finding the coverage speculative but comprehensive, he said. His other two sons, Tom and James, came to his house and did most of the media interviews and kept him abreast of the latest news. Having family around was comforting. But thoughts of his son's whereabouts still haunt him, he said.
"I think from time to time, 'What is he going through? What are they all going through?' " Aubrey Wood said. "Are they being fed? Are they being treated graciously? I just pray he's being treated humanely."
Shortly before the ill-fated trip, Philip Wood, 50, came to visit his parents for a week in their spacious, single-story home about 20 miles north of Fort Worth. His two sons â?? one a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, the other a sophomore there â?? came, as well.
Philip Wood was busy with work, checking e-mails and working his cellphone, Aubrey Wood said. But he was also very happy. He was headed to Kuala Lumpur to find an apartment where he and his girlfriend, Sarah Bajc, would soon live together. He called her "my soul mate," Aubrey Wood said.
After his disappearance, as the family huddled together and dissected conflicting details in the bizarre vanishing, Aubrey Wood shared a Bible scripture with the other family members. It was a line from Psalm 46:10 of the Old Testament: "Be still, and know that I am God."
Faith and strength of family is what has kept them going, he said.
"I'm at peace about it," Aubrey Wood said. "If he passed on, he's with the Lord. We'll see him again either way."
Copyright 2014USA TODAY
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