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African Aviation Regional issues that affect the numerous pilots who work in this area of the world.


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Old 10th Sep 2010, 14:16   #1 (permalink)
 
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The 727 that Vanished: N844AA

No conclusive answers, but the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine has a good back story on the 727 that went missing from Luanda in May 2003 (previous threads here, here, here and here).

Air & Space: The 727 that Vanished

I/C
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Old 10th Sep 2010, 14:44   #2 (permalink)
 
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Great story, thanks for posting the link.

However, could this have a totally benign explanation? Two engineers doing taxi tests, getting to fast and - voila! - the bird flies. Panic sets in, the PPL tries - and fails - to fly her. Crashes into ocean.

The first part (high-speed taxi tests with inadvertent t/o) has happened in the past.

We will probably never know......
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Old 11th Sep 2010, 13:04   #3 (permalink)
 
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I remeber seeing a 727 in American colours in Dar Es Salaam after the one in Angola went mising. Wondered if that was the one everyone was looking for. Most likely one of the other decomisioned 727's on a ferry flight, wish I'd checked the reg though.
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Old 11th Sep 2010, 22:47   #4 (permalink)
 
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<<<Jean Mutantu was the FE on the flight out of Luanda he now resides in the prison in Abuja for what I have never been able to find out. He knows the whereabouts of the aircraft for sure. I thought it was the 727 that crashed on takeoff somewhere on the west coast killing a lot of Lebanese PAX I was told by Mutantu's wife he was the FE on that flight too.>>>

I am the guy who wrote the story for Air & Space. I made a lot of calls overseas and talked to a lot of people who were involved in this story.

I was told several times that John Mikel Mutantu was a kid from the Congo who hung out at the airport in Luanda getting whatever work he could. He was not a pilot and he was not an FE. To my knowledge, he has not been seen or heard of since. He most certainly was not FE on the crash in Guinea that killed so many from Lebanon. That aircraft was a sister to N844AA and nothing more. The accident report on that crash is available on the internet and if you fly transport aircraft, the CVR transcript makes for sobering and disturbing reading.

Unfortunately, there was much more to this story than I was able to put into the article. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and people who get very nervous talking about it.

172Driver puts forth a very simple logical theory. However, if you look closely into the events that night, it falls apart. That is problem with every theory that I heard. None of them made sense with the facts at hand.

The most likely theory, in my mnd, is that the aircraft crashed somewhere at sea. But where? And what about the fuel sheen that it would have left? That should have been visible for days. But unfortunately, it was days before ANYBODY starting seriously looking for the aircraft.

This project went beyond "a story." For me, it became a compulsion.

cheers,
tim wright
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Old 12th Sep 2010, 00:09   #5 (permalink)
 
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You talk about fuel on the surface of the ocean, even if they had been informed that night who would have gone looking for them?

I've been involved on a few search and rescues out here in Africa, on all occasions it was other companies that put forth their own assets to look for the downed planes.

We never found anyone, though on one occasion the pilot and his passengers survived the ditching and were recovered 23 hours later by local fisherman. On seeing him at the airport I asked him about it all. He told me he'd seen the planes overhead searching for him. One by one they left. Then one turned towards him the final aircraft, he thought he'd been spotted, but it flew overhead and kept going. I asked him the reg number and he told me. Turns out it was mine Never saw him since he was right below us and we'd spent the last few hours overhead doing grid patern search over a ver small area with two other planes.

Plane goes down round here you might not even find anything. If it crashed in the bush it would be stripped within three days. A 737 went down a few miles from the runway, how long did it take to find them?

As for whoever flew out disapearing, it's all risk versus reward. How much was a junk 727 worth and was it worth enough to ditch your family in the states? I doubt it.

From what I hear Angola is pretty tightly controled, rumours of the aircraft almost hitting a fighter went around and it would not suprise me to learn Angolan military engaged an aircraft in their airspace, just ask the poor guys from Botswana, they got a intercepted and engaged even though it was a goverment flight on an official flight plan, fortunatly they all made it with a few injuries.

Just out of curiosity, anyone check if the reg had been repainted before the mysterious departure, if any onboard had any nice big insurance payouts if they disapeared.

I'm still trying to find out what happened to a South African Seneca that left Dar enroute to SA. Aircraft disapeared, no wreckage, all overland.

People say Africa is empty, once you been here a while you realise there is always someone out there. If she came down on land there would be clues, just got to find the right place to look.

As for the inadvertant flight. He taxied onto the runway without clearance or any communication. Manuvering on ground seemed eratic. If he had decided after all that to run the engines and he was charging down the runway and not being able to fly, why not just cut the power, or worse case shut the whole damn thing off and crab his ass and hope for the best rather than get airborne?
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Old 12th Sep 2010, 00:22   #6 (permalink)
 
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<<even if they had been informed that night who would have gone looking for them?>>

Soapbox Cowboy makes some very good points. The lack of SAR was repeatedly driven home to me.

In talking to the US State Department, if you go missing overseas, there is little to nothing the US government can do to look for you. Our embassies don't have the staff to mount large scale or intensive searches. They rely on the host government to do any searching...and Angola basically had little or no SAR resources nor did they seem to have much interest in the case.
And there was the problem that no one had any idea where to even begin looking.
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Old 13th Sep 2010, 08:49   #7 (permalink)
 
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The aircraft from what I heard is sitting in FZAA.
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Old 13th Sep 2010, 10:35   #8 (permalink)
 
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There is a former AA 727 sitting on "U" ramp in Cairo. Has been there for a few years. Reg is no longer N, and former reg can't be seen.
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Old 13th Sep 2010, 19:27   #9 (permalink)
 
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Incidentally is the 727 that was impounded in Harare during the attempted Equatorial Guinea coup still there? Or has that flown the coop?
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Old 13th Sep 2010, 20:25   #10 (permalink)
 
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It was still there in September 2007, when I was last in Harare, but that was, obviously, a while ago. Was parked on the military side of the airport.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 05:44   #11 (permalink)
 
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Question

Could this Luanda's 727 have anything related with the one that crashed last year in Mali/Niger Desert after crossing all the Ocean on a secret Drug's Ride
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 11:51   #12 (permalink)
 
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mali drug 727

Janet flight,

I wondered about that too so I contacted the DEA and asked. Despite repeated checking by my contact, the final word was that nobody knew or they weren't saying....which my contac found to be very strange.

If you've looked into this incident its not a big stretch to understand the official silence.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 14:36   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
The most likely theory, in my mnd, is that the aircraft crashed somewhere at sea. But where? And what about the fuel sheen that it would have left? That should have been visible for days. But unfortunately, it was days before ANYBODY starting seriously looking for the aircraft.
Seven years on and we still can't locate the AFR A330 that crashed into the Atlantic and a search was almost instantaneous for this one. You can't hide a 727 these days no matter how hard you try, so to my way of thinking, it did crash (probably at sea).
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 17:53   #14 (permalink)
 
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Smile

Quote:
Plane goes down round here you might not even find anything. If it crashed in the bush it would be stripped within three days. A 737 went down a few miles from the runway, how long did it take to find them?
Reminds me of the scene in 'Lord of War' where an AN-12 is stripped by the locals in no time.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:38   #15 (permalink)
 
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Not much use to people in the bush? Wires, handy for all kinds of things, snares, clothing repair, bags. Sheet metal, pots and pans, spears, arrows, fish hooks, Kerosene, great for starting fires and lamp fuel. Seats, what hut owner wouldn't be the envy of the neighburhood with a few plush chairs in his house. Seat belts, to hold your pants up. Tires, can be used as furniture and cut into durable shoes. Control cables, very strong kind of rope. Any number of toys for the kids can be fashioned from the fiddle little bits. Glass from instrument panels can be used in a similar fashion to a magnifying glass to start fires, and it's water proof. I'm sure there are lot's of other ideas out there

I heard of a 707 went of the runway in Kinshasa, cut to pieces by machette and axes and turned into pots and pans and housing accesories.

A CL-44 I believe that is what it was, last flying apparently, that went down in Congo was gone in three days, all that was left were items too large to move by a few men.

Once you've lived here a while you realise very little is thrown away, you just have to look at household waste in cities where there is a great supply of regular goods, all you find is scraps of food, and the bare scraps at that. Africans on the whole I've found to be very good and stretchign the life of things to their bitter end and then someone will turn up and find some final use that no one ever thought of.

Scrap metal is big buisness out here, so big in fact that they want to ban it. Guess some big shot in his mercedes busted his car driving into an open manhole, cover mysteriously disapeared in the night
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 00:02   #16 (permalink)
 
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Soap Box,

Now that's more believable. Everthing you said is true. I spent a couple years living and flying in Africa and have seen aircraft parts in the weidest places. Not attached to airplanes! Even when flying contract to Kenya Airways back in 1991 with a DC-8 we couldn't stop the flight attendants from stealing all the flashlights and anything else that wasn't bolted down.
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 08:27   #17 (permalink)
 
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Thread drift, but I remember wandering amongst Angolan Mig 21's that had been subjected to a hatchet job - you could see into the fuel tanks on one. It was an unforgettable experience to see a life size cross section of a Russian cold war fighter (some really, really solid parts there!) The same experience for the many other wrecks around there, Mi24's, BMP's, etc, although the military stuff stays intact for a while, being made of sterner stuff. I had to gamble with the landmine issue to see some of the stuff but I kept my limbs, yay

Africa does swallow things whole though. A plane is actually relatively small.
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 13:16   #18 (permalink)
 
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They get melted down for pots and pans so the rivet holes don't matter. Plenty of ally cookware all over Africa. Rumbek has what's left of a 748 just up the road from the airstrip. The entire aircraft has been cut up except for the heavy centre bulkhead around which the fuselage is built, and to which the main spars are attached. It's all that's left and that was a couple of years ago. Probably also gone now.

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Old 16th Sep 2010, 23:24   #19 (permalink)
 
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That 748 reminds me of a LET..
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Old 17th Sep 2010, 05:38   #20 (permalink)
 
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Or you could try looking at what remains of a 748 behind it.

Pots and pans....
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