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For A Passenger's Brother, The Pain Of Lost Flight 370 Lingers


Relatives of Chinese passengers who disappeared with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 march to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing today. They were stopped by police after a scuffle. The family members are trying to get answers about conflicting information. Malaysian authorities say a big piece of aircraft wing, found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, is definitively from Flight 370, but French and other authorities have not confirmed that. Two hundred thirty nine people were on board that flight when it disappeared nearly 17 months ago. Philip Wood was one of three Americans on the flight. He worked for IBM in Beijing, and his brother Tom Wood joins me now from Dallas to talk about the search and unanswered questions. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM WOOD: You're welcome.

BLOCK: Are you convinced that this piece of wreckage that they found is from the airplane that your brother was on?

WOOD: No, I'm not convinced, not until they give me a serial number that matches up. I mean, I treat every day as though he probably is gone and I probably won't see him again. But, you know, until I hear definites instead of supposition and people trying to close something that isn't closed or shouldn't be closed yet, then I'm still not convinced. I need a black box or something like that to get some real closure.

BLOCK: You want the data recorders found.

WOOD: Correct. That would tell us a whole lot more, you know?

BLOCK: Yeah, do you remember when you first heard that they'd found this piece of wreckage, what you were thinking?

WOOD: I was just thinking, I'm not going to react because during those first few weeks and months, people lead me to jump, you know, and react to things that then turned out to be nothing. And so there's a chance that this is nothing again. I mean, it's a slim chance, but until I get some real answers, the book's still open.

BLOCK: So many false leads along the way.

WOOD: Correct.

BLOCK: Yeah.

WOOD: It's just kind of ridiculous. It kind of leads you to be suspicious about things.

BLOCK: What would the scenario be that you let yourself imagine that would be something other than a crash? Is there some other scenario that you're entertaining here?

WOOD: There were rumors that it had landed on an airstrip in Vietnam, you know, or it had crash landed. There were multiple sightings at the beginning by fishermen who I don't think are trying to become famous or anything like that. You know, so there are all kinds of thoughts and then even more crazy ones like the plane just disappearing. You know, when no one's giving you answers and everybody's just trying to come up with something to appease everyone and then they really can prove it, your mind starts to wander.

BLOCK: What has the arc of the last 17 months been like for you and for your family?

WOOD: It took me, personally, eight to nine months to get a hold of myself, you know. And, I mean, I wasn't a wreck, but at the same time, I'd break down a lot, you know, in private and just cry. I was good about not letting anybody see it, but it took me about that amount of time to level out, so to speak.

BLOCK: And since then?

WOOD: And since then, just hoping for answers. I don't - my world doesn't revolve around the news or, you know, any websites or searching. I just trust that God knows what's going on and I can't - I don't have any control over the situation. I, you know, I mean, I miss him every day, but I'm just moving forward, you know, as my brother would've wanted me to - make a good impact with the time I have.

BLOCK: Are there other ways that you try to honor your brother's memory?

WOOD: I have pictures, you know, framed, and as I move through my house, you know, I'll see him and just smile, you know. And then, course, you know, as with any relationship, there are things that cause you to remember - you know, that spark memories, good memories. My brother and I were good friends. I'd say he was probably my closest friend. And, you know, memories of family gatherings and birthdays - and he's glaringly absent. And then sometimes when you don't want to remember, there's something in a television plot line, but it's not torturing me, you know, it's always - remembering him is always a good thing.

BLOCK: Do you fly much, Mr. Wood?

WOOD: I just flew for the first time since he had disappeared. And so I did have, like, a moment of anxiousness before I got on that plane, but it was - it wasn't because I was scared to fly. It was just, I think, a reminder, you know, of what he'd had to go through.

BLOCK: Well, Mr. Wood, I hope you get some answers and thanks again for talking with us.

WOOD: So do I. Thank you very much.

BLOCK: That's Tom Wood. His brother Philip was on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.