SYDNEY (REUTERS) - For Australian boating enthusiast Stephen Knight, the news of plane debris washing up on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean this week didn't come as a surprise.
A Malaysian official and aviation experts have said the piece of debris, a 2m-2.5m long wing surface known as flaperon, is almost certainly part of a Boeing 777, the same type of aircraft as Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared without a trace 16 months ago with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Reunion is roughly 3,700 km from the broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia where search efforts have been focused.
Knight lost his boat in rough seas near the Australian city of Perth in 2013. It washed up on a small island off Madagascar nine months later.
Knight's story adds weight to widespread conviction that vast, rotating currents sweeping the southern Indian Ocean could have deposited wreckage from MH370 near Africa. "When I heard about the finding of the wing I thought about my boat," Knight, who is also the managing director of financial
firm Knight Management Services Pty Ltd, told Reuters.
Knight, who had given up all hopes of ever getting back his boat, found his 'LeisureCat' at Mayotte, a small island to the north of Madagascar about 7400km west of Perth. Reunion, on the other hand, is to the east of Madagascar. "The wing is obviously a lot lighter in structure than what my boat would have been. The fact that the wing has taken longer and travelled less far in distance - it all adds up."
If confirmed to be part of the missing Boeing 777, experts will try to model its drift to retrace where the debris came from.