View Full Version : 727 stolen from Angola

29th May 2003, 04:28
Plane disappears after take-off (http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,6510620%255E1702,00.html)

Good God, whatever next! :ooh:

29th May 2003, 04:47
Come to Southend and there are a number of 727's laying around
(ex Couger , ex TNT etc ).
Take one or two of these and nobody would notice.

Onan the Clumsy
29th May 2003, 05:02
Can you imagine having to report it... "Well officer, I just nipped in the terminal to buy a packet of fags and when I came out, it was gone"

29th May 2003, 05:05
In some quarters, this might just be called 'repossession of equipment'.
Been done before, with good reason.

Robert Vesco
29th May 2003, 06:26
I know all about it 411A ! :*

Someone stole my Silver Phyllis from Panama´s Tocumen Airport back in 1974 !! :suspect:

29th May 2003, 09:11
Had to laugh:


"A witness to the plane's departure on Sunday, airport employee Luis Lopes, said he saw a white man start the empty plane and then take off after a few dangerous land manoeuvres."

Can picture him laying a few straps, cutting corners and getting the back end out while ripping her onto the active!

Must have had a fair idea on what he was doing but - can't say it'd be the same as hotwiring a Hyundai Excel.



Wanula Dreaming
29th May 2003, 17:21
Only one lousy 727 stolen ??

That´s nothing yet ! In Switzerland a whole airline was stolen/hijacked from it´s rightfull owners.... :ooh:

international hog driver
29th May 2003, 21:12
It happened on Sunday night, and we were waiting for the international press to get hold of this one.

The 727 is an ex AA one that has been here for a year now.

Story from the guys on the ram is that it fired up and taxied, no lights, no calls (not that that tower answers you on a good day anyway) and made for 23 in the dark.

As it happens a ruski of some type was finals for 05 so they did a quick turn in the run up bay and back tracked 25 as what was described as very quick and then departed 25 dissapearing into the dark

We laughed well after that, I wonder if there flight had been dispatched.

So if anyone else in West Africa sees a Sliver 727 with Blue and White stripes. Take cash for gas and wave as they depart.

Think of the "poor" officals who missed their cut of this departure :{:ok: :E

29th May 2003, 21:46
Great news.

The buzz in the States is that the terrorists will aquire (buy, rent, steal) an aircraft or two and load them with explosives for another building attack. There is even a story that they might start up a legitimate part 121 freight operation and field it with anglos for awhile to avoid scrutiny. Then one day, they load the explosives and....

I hope to hell they find this aircraft and disable it --and all others just sitting around. Otherwise, Europe will suffer what we in the States have gone through the past two years.


29th May 2003, 21:56
I dont think they would get too far before being intercepted and there arnt too many places within a B727's duration that you could base this sort of "start up" operation without being investigated......well i hope not anyway.


29th May 2003, 22:19
If I'm not mistaken, that is the aircraft that we ferried from MIA to Luanda for a man known as Keith Irwin out of Jo- Burg. It was an Ex AA pax B-727. That aircraft is a full blown fuel hauler and if in the wrong hands could be a serious threat however, I would guess at this point it was just the repo man claiming his property. Keith Irwin brought a crew of six over from the states to operate this aircraft and after two months on the project, the crew left without collecting a single pay check. He also owed several other people lots of money and may have got in trouble for buying a HOT HF radio, stolen from the Angolan military and they may have had something to do with seizing the aircraft originally. Who knows.:hmm:

29th May 2003, 23:20
Ah! Africa don't you just love the place :ok:

30th May 2003, 00:29
Nice trick, cranking up and flying a 727 by yourself. I guess he must have been current on the panel!

30th May 2003, 02:13
Now there's a bad name to remember, Keith Irwin. I worked for him out of Lanseria flying his Baron 58 (ZS-IB#) for a company called Select Air back in 1989, and never really got paid. My salary cheque bounced a few times, even a few times on the same day after being assured that all is OK.

I am surprised that the Angolans didn't send up a Mig or two, mind you their B737's could do a good job of taking planes out of the sky, they almost took out Cessna 402 in Namibia.

30th May 2003, 08:23
Yup, The Bastard got me for about $14,000 USD and the rest of the guys for as much and more!!!!!! I only wish that it was him that stole the airplane from Luanda and got blown out of the sky. It would be a shame though, it was a nice airplane. Come to think of it he wouldn't know the first thing about flying a 72.

30th May 2003, 16:34
Someone stole a 727?

Am I missing something - but did someone leave the keys in the ignition or something? Or was he adept enough to hotwire it? :suspect:

30th May 2003, 17:06
Could you explain the joke a bit more? A B727 with ignition key?


Angel`s Playmate
30th May 2003, 17:20
Cpt 104:

check 450`s profile .... and you know why !!:cool:

30th May 2003, 18:06
Cor' some people don't spot a wind up when they see one...I'll add a warning next time.:(

30th May 2003, 22:28
Hey, it’s easy to fly a 72 solo. Just put a Coke machine in the right seat and give me a long stick with some bubble gum on the end to run the engineer’s panel and tell me where ya want to go.

No problems!

;) ;)

31st May 2003, 19:37
... Some more info from the same thread on the African Forum : :p

The only building this bird damaged was the domestic pax terminal in Luanda.
It was stuck in the mud and the tug could not budge it so buddy gets in and powers it out.

727 at full power, tail to the terminal......

It coated everything with mud then blew the roof off the baggage area before then taking the tug for a ride.

Oh africa..... :uhoh:



Panama Jack
31st May 2003, 22:16
"airport employee Luis Lopes, said he saw a white man start the empty plane and then take off after a few dangerous land manoeuvres."

In the US the article describing a thief would be "airport employee Luis Lopes, said he saw a black man start the empty plane and then take off after a few dangerous land manoeuvres."

All sounds a touch racist.

1st Jun 2003, 14:16
So where did the 727 go? Anybody know?

international hog driver
1st Jun 2003, 15:42
I think you guys are getting paranoid, up there in the real world and obviously some of you have never worked in the third world.

If and I stress the word “IF” this was a terrorist type thing then I can think of a lot more countries with a lot more aircraft scattered around them that are closer to Europe and North America.

Check out the African forum and read into what has been said and “may” get an understanding about what happened.

The reality of what goes on is these places will astound some of you in the oversensitive, tree hugging nandy pandy, nimby, ‘free’ world.

Airside security does not exist to those that are determined, think of the shoe shine kids and hangar rats everywhere in Africa, the families that were living in the grass beside the runway in manila, and the millions of places out there that jets go to where the runway is simply a wide pedestrian crossing built through the middle of town.

You don’t need to ask what goes on, you don’t publicise that stuff in public forum people like to sit back in there chairs and say ooohh, isn’t that bad, doesn’t the world need to fix that.
Gimme a break, in southwest Africa alone billions of dollars go missing every year from government coffers, more than enough than enough to run the whole WFP program for ever.

The day that the WFP are making food drops by Herc and 727 in France is that day that people will understand the third world having never been there.

Ok rant over, wake up and smell the coffee, it has nothing to do with osama bin hiding.

1st Jun 2003, 16:28
Hey Con just thinking the same thing. Pressures up, essential switched, change seats, start one, quick peep start valve engaged pressure rising, N1 fuel shut off, actualy, apart from nipping back for a sec just to have a quick set up and the pole and bubble gum would probably do it. Nice to have an autopilot that halfway works, some of these junk birds in the Dark Continent have been a bit neglected! Where the hell was he parked? last time I was in Luanda they still had a smidgen of tarmac though there were some holes. Getting rid of the tug might have been tricky before blasting off into the blue though.

12th Jun 2003, 01:47
CBC here in Canada ran a feature yesterdays in their news bulletin about that plane. Seems that the US State department is very interest in finding out what happened to it. A 'leading aviation expert' interviewed by the network said that the plane could fly to the US and be 'invisible' to FAA radars until it crashed into a building (I guess he meant the crew could turn the transponder off)...

12th Jun 2003, 03:34
Has that "leading aviation expert" ever heard about a big plane with four engines and a big frisbee on the roof, called AWACS ?

Well, these planes didn't spend much time on the ground since September 12th so nobody can blame him.

I don't know who paid that guy to talk to the mass media, but I hope it was not much. What's the point of scaring people when you have no idea how real is the threat ?

12th Jun 2003, 03:42
How close would a fully fueled 727 have to be to CONUS to have a go? Surely there is a watch out for this 727s like this in Europe?

12th Jun 2003, 03:57
Well if they are terrorists they made a good choice of aircraft. Besides a military jet there are no big jets that can keep up with the 727.

In reality, the 727 airframe could have been the "Sonic Cruiser" with a bit of a nip and tuck and some new quiet fuel efficient engines. With the JT8Ds she will hit Mach .98 in level flight.

Load the belly with extra fuel tanks and the cabin with Semetex. If she left Algeria and flew really low across the pond she could be in France or the UK in no time at all. They would be even smarter if they stole a transponder from another aircraft that nobody is going to notice for awhile and by the time the UK military figured it out Buckinham Palace would be a war zone.

Don't get me wrong I for sure do not want ANY more airplanes used in the manner that the terrorists like to use them.

:mad: :\

12th Jun 2003, 04:13
Stratocaster: agree with you, hence the ' ' ...


12th Jun 2003, 04:26
Today's Newspaper Headline ...

:uhoh: A missing passenger jet that appears to have been converted into a fuel tanker has not entered South African airspace, officials here said on Wednesday.

South Africa was asked by US officials via Interpol to help trace the aircraft, said Mary Martins-Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the South African police.

There were, however, reports that the Boeing 727, missing since it took from an airport in Angola, may be in West Africa, said Trevor Abrahams, commissioner of South Africa's civil aviation authority.

Abrahams said that the plane is known to be an American registered plane and that there were no reports that it had picked up new fuel, suggesting that it had not travelled far.

Engelbrecht said she could not confirm the reports.

US officials in Washington said that the plane was probably being used for criminal purposes, and has not been linked to a terrorist plot.

Chris Yates, the Janes Aviation and Security editor, said in a phone interview from London that the plane was chartered from an Angolan company with a history of having planes vanish for gun running or other illegal activities.

Yates said it was "extremely worrisome" to have such an aircraft go missing, whether it was in the hands of terrorists or gun runners.

"It concerns me because this is by all accounts a tanker conversion and if one follows that through effectively, what you have is a flying bomb," said Yates.

The US Embassy in South Africa was working alongside other embassies in the region to gather information on the plane's possible whereabouts, said the embassy's spokesperson Judy Moon. :uhoh:

12th Jun 2003, 05:27
Like I said previously folks, If that was a US registered X American Airlines B-727 reg.#N844AA , and it was converted to a fuel tanker last year. It has ten 500 gallon aluminum tanks bolted to the floor with 4 inch valves on each tank joined together by 4 inch high pressure hoses leading to the aft where refueling is accomplished. There is also a very unique vent system which allows almost zero fumes into the aircraft. The tanks are held to the seat tracks in four corners buy half inch bolts.(I would hate to see where the tanks would end up if a few G's were pulled) The aircraft was delivered to Luanda by a South African man known as Keith Irwin. Sorry I had to repeat his name again.

12th Jun 2003, 06:20
Air Contractors were short of a few spares ........the lengths people will go to to save a few euros!

Coop & Bear

12th Jun 2003, 22:23
Hi all,


Anyone know anything of a US a/c missing in Africa?

That's all I've heard - nought about whether civil or mil or anything else.


12th Jun 2003, 22:29

here yah go

:mad: :ok:

12th Jun 2003, 22:51
Thanks 747FOCAL but that was a couple of weeks ago... hearing about something possibly more recent.

But thanks

Actually a bit of word-eating to be done here.

Seems like ABC in the States has picked up on this and that the 727 involved apparently was ex-AA and had lots of fuel tanks. The ABC story apparently says the nice young chaps from Langley are on the hunt.

12th Jun 2003, 23:12
Well if they have stolen another something more than just criminal activity is going on.

12th Jun 2003, 23:40


MMM..... I wondetr if there is a reward??

13th Jun 2003, 00:37
No, it's the same one. Just the usual delay in US news media picking up anything that happens elsewhere. Oh yes, and the possibility of a 'terrorist' angle is good for ratings/circulation. :uhoh:

And I now extend the same criticism (only moreso) to the BBC who have only picked up this 'item' today (June 19). Proves they don't monitor PPRuNe I suppose.

13th Jun 2003, 05:50
Has anyone bothered to take a look on E-bay?

13th Jun 2003, 11:47
Now that the boys from Langley seem to be worried, I guess it'll take just a few passes of satelllites to make a picture of every suitable airfield in Africa (especially Western Africa). You can't hide an airliner like that for long.

The other possibility is that the guy who "repo-ed" his aircraft will make himself known to the authorities, because this story is starting to make the headlines. If he did it, I wouldn't be waiting for the CIA to knock on my door, I'd tell them "Hey, it's me, no big deal, that's the only way I found to have this plane back".

In both cases, it shouldn't take much time before we know what's going on.

Unless the aircraft was indeed stolen (by an "intoxicated" pilot ?) but crashed in the jungle...

13th Jun 2003, 17:03
This may be a bit of a tangent but some years ago I sat through the early hours with a group of people in an ops room in Manchester worrying about a plane load of delayed passengers. On the ramp was someone else's B747 not going anywhere until the following afternoon and in a hotel we had a full crew capable and qualified to fly the beast if it was in our fleet. The aircraft's crew were overnighting in a local hotel and the airline had no based staff at Manchester.

The conversation revolved around who would know if we pretended (lied) to the airport duty people that we had leased the aircraft, boarded the passengers and flew to Malaga and back and left the aircraft on the ramp back where it had originally been parked.

It would fly under our flight numbers as a delayed flight so ATC records would tally.

The only record anyone could think of would be the clocks on the engines.

What did we miss?

13th Jun 2003, 19:05
What did you do for fuel? Surely a large and unexpected bill would arouse suspicions when presented for payment. The USAF liaison officer with the CIA in Air America days apparently could only track what they were doing with the USAF-supplied aircraft by keeping an account of their fuel uplifts.

Jed A1
14th Jun 2003, 09:39
Fuel, landing fees, airport dues and catering - Cash.

Been done before.

15th Jun 2003, 02:46
> Has anyone bothered to take a look on E-bay?

Looks like they plan to sell it off in bits....

BOEING 727 PILOTS RADIO PANEL (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=26436&item=2419540495) ;-)

18th Jun 2003, 22:26
In Angola, A Jetliner's Vanishing Act
Boeing 727 Is Subject Of Search, U.S. Worry

By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2003; Page A01

The Boeing 727 had not budged from its parking place at the airport in Angola's capital city for 14 months, so when the jetliner started taxiing down the runway, the men in the control tower radioed the pilot for an explanation. There was no reply from the cockpit, even after the plane rumbled to a takeoff into the African skies.

The plane has been missing since it took off from the Luanda airport around dinnertime on May 25, setting off a continent-wide search for its whereabouts that includes the CIA, the State Department and a number of African nations. Their fear is that terrorists could stage a replay of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, using the plane in a suicide attack somewhere in Africa.

U.S. authorities say it is likely the airplane was filched as part of a business dispute or financial scam. But even so, they say, there is a danger that unscrupulous people in control of a plane that size could make it available to arms or gem smugglers, guerrilla movements or terrorists.

It has been a commonplace for decades in Africa for the paperwork on commercial aircraft, especially small and mid-sized planes, to be dodgy, and for regulation to be extremely lax, industry officials said. Planes continually change ownership, and the aprons of some African airstrips are littered with wrecked aircraft stripped for parts.

But losing a 153-foot, 200,000-pound aircraft is no common occurrence.

"I haven't come across this before in 22 years in this business," said Chris Yates, a civil aviation security analyst for the private Jane's Aviation service. "It is not a stretch to think this plane could end up in the hands of terrorists. A number of companies involved in gun running [and other crimes] in Africa have indirect ties to various terrorist groups."

In the post-Sept. 11 world, even the possibility that terrorists could obtain a large aircraft prompts intensive government scrutiny. U.S. officials are alarmed because large swaths of Africa are under heightened alert for terrorism. Last month, 42 people, including 13 terrorists, died in a series of orchestrated suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco. In November, 16 people, including three terrorists, died in the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

Western intelligence officials say al Qaeda operatives are known to be casing possible targets in Kenya and other East African nations. On May 15, British officials suspended flights to and from Kenya after raising the perceived threat to its commercial flights there to the highest level, "imminent."

Homeland Security Department officials said that given the likelihood that thieves and not al Qaeda are behind the 727's disappearance, there is no cause for grave alarm.

"Yes, there is concern, and an ongoing search, but it is not one that could be described as a desperate search," said Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

U.S. spy satellites have snapped pictures of remote airstrips throughout Africa, starting with ones that are within half a fuel tank's distance from Luanda's "4 de Fevereiro" International Airport. The 28-year-old 727 had taken on 14,000 gallons of A-1 jet fuel shortly before it departed.

U.S. embassy personnel are traveling around Africa to ask host aviation ministries for any sign of the aircraft. "They haven't seen hide nor hair of it," said one government official. "It's so odd."

A large number of people and companies have owned, leased or subleased the aircraft in recent years. U.S. officials say that a few have been involved in shady endeavors. One firm recently involved in owning or leasing it, a U.S. official said, "has a history of allowing aircraft to be used by people for illegal things."

According to the private Airclaims airplane database, the 727's current owner is a Miami-based firm called Aerospace Sales & Leasing Co., which bought it in 2001 after it was flown by American Airlines for decades. In 1997, Aerospace Sales's president, Maury Joseph, was barred from running any publicly traded firm after he was convicted of forging documents and defrauding investors by exaggerating the profits of another company he ran, Florida West Airlines.

Joseph's son, Lance Joseph, said the company has committed no wrong. He said a firm that had leased the plane from Aerospace Sales -- a company whose name he said he couldn't recall -- had removed the seats and replaced them with fuel tanks. It flew the 727 to Luanda with a plan to deliver fuel to remote African airfields, he said.

According to the Airclaims database, a company called Irwin Air had planned to buy the 727 last month. No more information could be learned about the company.

Helder Preza, Angola's aviation director, told the Portuguese radio network RDP that the plane arrived in Luanda in March 2002, but that authorities prevented it from flying on because "the documentation we held did not pertain to the aircraft in question."

Angolan officials also demanded stiff ramp fees as well as settlement of private liens on the 727, Joseph said. Aerospace Sales was settling the disputes and planning to repossess the aircraft and fly it away when the 727 -- one of about 1,100 worldwide -- disappeared, he said.

Joseph also said that in recent months a former Aerospace Sales associate with whom he has had bitter financial disputes, Miami aircraft broker Mike Gabriel, had been in Africa stating that he planned to stop the plane's repossession and make a claim on it.

In the 1980s, Gabriel was convicted of importing 5,000 pounds of marijuana. He did not return messages left at his office requesting comment, and his attorney, Jack Attias, declined to comment.

Preza, the Angolan official, said that "the owner of the aircraft contacted us saying he wished to fly out of Angola." Then, he added, a man who presented himself as "the legitimate representative of the aircraft's owner'' -- a man Preza described as a U.S. citizen but whom he declined to name -- entered the aircraft. Moments later, Preza said, the man flew the plane away.

"The person who flew out the plane was no stranger to the aircraft," Preza said.

Another twist in the case is that the State Department is asking its diplomats in Africa, in searching for the 727, to ask host governments whether they have any information about two men that its cables say "reportedly" own the plane -- Ben Padilla and John Mikel Mutantu. The men are not listed as owners on any public database, and no other information about them was available.

Aviation expert Yates said the plane might never be located. "I suspect it's disappeared into the murky world of African aviation," he said.

Staff researchers Margot Williams and Mary Louise White contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Oops, forgot to add..... the fella in the article that works for Jane's said that in 20 years he has never seen a stolen plane before...... where the hell has he been??? I only got ten years and I have seen several theft recovered aircraft. :ok:

18th Jun 2003, 23:03
It happens even in the UK. 5 to 10 years ago a 707 went walkies at Coventry Airport! An aircraft operated by a well known individual who lost a few bags of Coke at Southend recently, got repoed. The crew asked for FULL POWER ENGINE RUNS & were cleared to the runway to carry them out. They opened the taps & disappeared, finally arriving at Manston!

Flying Bagel
19th Jun 2003, 16:27
I wonder if this could all be just a repo that went terribly wrong...

Oh wait. It could have been James Bond escaping from some evil African dictator, and then flew the plane into a submersible aircraft carrier that the British made back in the 60's (without telling anyone of course.)

19th Jun 2003, 17:56
I actually doubt that Flying Bagel, but I do think David Copperfield might have something to do with this.:}

19th Jun 2003, 18:56
BBC News have just picked up on this story....


19th Jun 2003, 22:04
Hey Con - Pilot, you are right about flying the 727 solo but its not quite like you said. All you need is a Flight Engineer and a couple of monkeys in the front seat!


19th Jun 2003, 22:18
With all the junk that is lying around coventry airport, they could land it there while ATC are asleep (23 hrs of the day!) and no one would notice!!

20th Jun 2003, 03:53
If (and that's a big if) this aircraft has been stolen with the intention to use it in a terrorist attack, we would have already heard about it in the headline news.

Everybody knows about it now, including every ATC/military radar/AWACS/etc. of the galaxy. What's the point of waiting for so long and let the information spread worldwide if you wanted to take everybody off-guard ? What's the point of stealing an aircraft in Southern Africa to strike Europe or the US ? What's the point of making your life really difficult when simplicity is the key to success ?

20th Jun 2003, 08:14
This story has been broadcasted on many of the major networks. I watched it again last night on the local/national news. Also on ABC World News it states that a pilot Benjamin Padilla from Florida who has connections with the company in Florida who owns the aircraft, is being sought by US officials as he is a suspect at this time for the disappearance of N844AA from Angola. See PPrune forum Africa for details.

21st Jun 2003, 17:15
Fort Lauderdale, Florida - The family of a 51-year-old pilot from Miami fears that he crashed while flying a Boeing 727 that authorities say has been missing since taking off without permission from Angola in Africa last month.

Ben Padilla had been hired by a Miami-based firm to repossess the plane after Angola Air failed to make payments on it, Padilla's sister, Benita Padilla-Kirkland, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

His family suspects Padilla was flying the Boeing that took off from Angola on May 25 and may have crashed somewhere on the African continent, his sister said. Padilla is an airplane mechanic and pilot who has flown cargo planes around the world for two decades.

The missing plane has been the subject of an international search since it disappeared. US officials in Washington have said that the plane was probably being used for criminal purposes but hasn't been linked to any terrorist plot.

Padilla responded last month to an e-mail from a relative informing him that his mother was in the hospital with a heart attack. More than a month later, his mother is recovering in Pensacola, but the family still hasn't heard from him.

"I know (he) would've called my mother," Padilla-Kirkland said. "His last e-mail said that he would call her when he could, and the fact that he has not called her is the first clear sign that he's unable. If he crashed or is being held against his will." - Sapa-AP

News24.co.za (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1376660,00.html)

Willit Run
22nd Jun 2003, 21:33
A 727 with 14,000 gallons of fuel will be a long way out of Africa!

23rd Jun 2003, 00:25
727 with 14,000 gallons

Assuming all that fuel is useable. Figures I have indicate the main tankage on a 727 is around 8,000 (US) gallons. Remember this is configured as a fuel hauler, some or possibly most of that 14,000 may have gone into the 'cargo' tanks.

23rd Jun 2003, 04:12
I hope the pilot from the repo company is ok.
I assume that he was paid to do a job an tried to his best ability to do so.
My concern is that since this aircraft had been sitting on the ramp
for 14 months no maintainence(see previous post) must have been a flying simulator for him.
Even for a three man crew they would have been working harder than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, due to lack of maintanince .I dont think this is terriorist related, just typical African mode of operations.
My prayers for the pilot an his family.

homesick rae
24th Jun 2003, 20:27
This topic just been on CNN with one of the pilot's
brothers speaking about the mystery!

24th Jun 2003, 21:44
Got an email from a friend in Luanda and the story down there is that the aircraft is back in South Africa with the original owners having been repossessed. Some of the excitement was supposed to have been caused by the plane flying at a very low level with its transponder off which led to the fears of terrorist activity. Allegedly the plane was fueled by one of the companys which was owed money.

Don't know how reliable any of this is but suppose the rumour networks a good place for it !! :cool:

7th Jul 2003, 16:45
Saw this reporter and though he was just a drunk ... talking sh!t ... so he was actually a reporter ... mmhhh ..:E

Well here goes ..:

James Astill in Freetown
Monday July 7, 2003
The Guardian

A Boeing 727 cargo plane which caused panic among US intelligence
agencies after mysteriously disappearing from Angola's main airport
turned up last week in Guinea, the Guardian can reveal.

The plane, which was feared to be in the hands of international
terrorists, was spotted on June 28 in Conakry, Guinea's capital, by
Bob Strother, a Canadian pilot. It had been resprayed and given the
Guinean registration 3XGOM. But at least the last two letters of its
former tail-number, N844AA, were still showing.

The plane, which was recently converted into a fuel tanker, was said
to be owned by a member of West Africa's Lebanese business community,
and was being used to shuttle goods between Beirut and Conakry,
according to Mr Strother.

"There's absolutely no doubt it's the same aircraft, the old
registration is clearly visible," said Mr Strother by phone from
Conakry. "Whoever owns it must have some important friends to get it
re-registered in two days: going by the book, the whole process
usually takes a couple of months."

Western intelligence agencies were said to be scouring Africa's clear
skies and mouldering runways for the missing tanker, fearing that it
could easily be aimed at an American or British embassy on the
continent. Yet an American official in the region said this was the
first he had heard of the plane since its disappearance from Angola's
capital, Luanda, on May 25.

"People have been looking for this thing everywhere," the official
said. "We've had reports that it crashed, that it was in South Africa
or Nigeria, but nothing for sure, not like what you've just told me."

The Guardian was able to furnish the American official with a
photograph of the mystery plane, taken by Mr Strother.

Immediately after the plane's disappearance, unnamed US intelligence
sources told the Associated Press that it "mostly likely was taken for
a criminal endeavour such as drug or weapons smuggling". But they had
"not ruled out the possibility it was stolen for use in a terrorist

A US state department spokesman, Philip Reeker, said at the time:
"There is no particular information suggesting that the disappearance
of the aircraft is linked to terrorists or terrorism, but it's still
something that obviously we would like to get to the bottom of."

A western diplomat in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, said it was
more likely the plane had simply been snatched from Luanda be cause
its owner was reluctant to pay year-long airport taxes, totalling
around £30,000.

"There's always a shady side to business around here," he said. "But
as for the terrorism stuff, that sounds like a complete load of

Since being sighted last week, the plane has again taken off into

"We only saw it that one time, now it's gone," said Mr Strother.
"Maybe whoever owns it just wanted to drop by and pick up a Guinean
registration for convenience. Maybe it won't be back."

PPRuNe Towers
7th Jul 2003, 18:45
Sitting in Beirut and has been for about 10 days.

Quite a lot of activity aqround it over the weekend - full US reg and flag still in view as well as the 3X reg.

7th Jul 2003, 22:04
Mystery Boeing turns up ... briefly
Oregonian 07/07/03
author: The Mecury

A BOEING 727 plane, whose sudden disappearance in Angola in May unnerved US intelligence agencies, reappeared last week in the Guinean capital Conakry before vanishing once again, British newspaper The Guardian reported today.

Washington has been working with African governments in the past month in a frantic bid to hunt down the cargo plane, amid fears the aircraft could be used by terrorists in a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

The paper said the plane was spotted on June 28 by a Canadian pilot, Bob Strother, in Conakry, sporting a new coat of paint and a Guinean registration number.

But Strother told the paper that two letters of the plane's old tail number - N844AA - were still showing, proving the aircraft was the same Boeing that was being sought by US diplomats throughout Africa.

"There's absolutely no doubt it's the same aircraft, the old registration is clearly visible," he was quoted as saying.

"Whoever owns it must have some important friends to get it reregistered in two days: going by the book, the whole process usually takes a couple of months," he added.

"We only saw it that one time, now it's gone".

The plane, which has been converted into a fuel tanker, is owned by a member of West Africa's Lebanese business community and was being used to carry goods between Beirut and Conakry, according to Strother.

The 28-year-old jetliner was stolen from under the noses of the control tower at the airport in the Angolan capital Luanda on May 25 and until now had not been sighted since. It had been parked at the airport for 14 months.

Angolan state radio said shortly after its disappearance that it had been chartered by the Angolan airline Airangol but was grounded after being banned from overflying Angolan territory on account of a series of irregularities.

While US officials are concerned the plane could have been stolen by terrorists, the most likely scenario is that the aircraft was was stolen as part of a business dispute or financial scam, said a western diplomat in Sierra Leone, quoted by The Guardian.

7th Jul 2003, 22:56
Why did they go through so much trouble with the new paint job and re-registration and still leave the old REG on the aircraft?

PPRuNe Towers
7th Jul 2003, 23:00
This aircraft isn't resprayed.

7th Jul 2003, 23:02

I think you are describing my friend's aircraft.

He has a 727 described like yours with an American flag on.
We contacted the owner in Lebanon and he went to the authorities. The Angolan "flying bomb" is not his aircraft.

Please keep me updated about your rumour / fact please PT !


Gunns:confused: :confused: :confused:

8th Jul 2003, 08:34
Yeah, this story seems pretty thin. The only thing that the AA proves is that this 727 was once operated by American Airlines. Surely there's more than one of those in Africa.

8th Jul 2003, 15:53
If you speak to those within the security scope of the industry and it would seem that there would be little difficulty in getting hold of any number of stored a/c at any number of airfields throughout the world. I am sure that the Coventry incident is not unique. With money, crew and logistics it would not be to problematic, just depends on the individuals levels of commitment.

Dave Gittins
8th Jul 2003, 22:26
Seem to remember that somebody nicked a 707 at one of the Bristol Airports back in the 1980s, allegedly knocking half the approach lights down as it rotated and slowly climbed .. also apparently with only a PPL in the Right hand seat. I remember the newspaper headline about the "Bristol Cowboy".

But as a simple cherokee driver ..... how do you start a 727 that has sat on the ground for 14 months ??? Won't the battery be flat ??? ... I asume you'd need that as a minimum to get the APU going or else one man on his own would take all night setting up a houchin cart, starting the apu, getting out, shifting the cart etc.

Personally I wouldn't even know how to get the back stairs on a 727 down without power and assume that first you'd have to nick a tractor and a set of steps just to get in the door ???

I hear what is said about "Welcome to Africa" ... but wouldn't all that runnin' about and racket attract some attention ???


UFO Bloke
9th Jul 2003, 00:58
Hi all

If this has really been found does anyone have a image of it

or landing times etc

i've been following this story since it started and would
like to know if it can be put to bed ?

many thanks


9th Jul 2003, 01:27
Alert Alert .. we have trolls .. a ONE poster and a 3 Poster ... 3 posts in 8 months mate and you ask

... like to know if it can be put to bed ?

The Answer : NO it can not ... :}

Now ... jump back on your UFO mate ... this is a serious thread :E

9th Jul 2003, 01:34
Having once legged it in the middle of the night myself from an african (controlled) airport in a largish noisy t.p., its easy to do but you still have to have the cooperation of some locals.either to get some gnd support (in our case a gpu)or bribe all the guards to clean their guns.nothing can happen without the local telegraph knowin about it.
thankfully the french foreign legion also there at the time werent briefed to lay down fire on civilian foreign aircraft.

no it wasnt nicked we were refused departure during the day due to politics and our vip needed out so we got out .
you had to be there.

UFO Bloke
9th Jul 2003, 04:41
was only asking for your help

on arrival times

and a pic of the aircraft at conakry if it was available

interesting welcome gunship ? thanks

UFO B:confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

9th Jul 2003, 06:42
:confused: :confused: :confused: What does your "put to bed mean then " ?

I will appologise if you can answer that one. The pics and so on can be arranged.

You a journo ?

Lo Bert ... when u leave for SA ?

B Sousa
9th Jul 2003, 14:16
Guns......Hopefuly just after the 15th...... Im gonna make it to the Cape and hit Francois up, for some time in the slick.

UFO Bloke
9th Jul 2003, 14:22
Hi gunship

let me explain

i work at the atc college in the uk
when this was stolen i followed the story
hoping that it would be found
i just wanted extra clarification (a picture)to make sure
IRS or Aerospace leasing are an interesting company
and N844AA in the press was billed as a possible threat
(IRS also owned N334AA, a sad coincidence) and i was interested

by the the phrase 'put it to bed' i meant stop thinking of this as a possible threat

sorry for any confusion

but this is the african forum and i'm in the uk
you guys seemed to know what was really happening


9th Jul 2003, 15:55
The "new owner" did everything right. He was told everything except that it was the "stolen aircraft" from Angola and was "missing" for a month.

Crews was arrested before flight yesterday.

Aircraft was apparently "flown out back to where it came from".

Owner says all was done through Miami.

Somebody did not play the game with the old man that has a heart condition :\ !!

I am not a happy man.

Greeting to you all. I might "see" you while on leave in SA.

To those that got jobs - GREAT ! :ok:

Love it when a plan works !




Sorry mate only see your post now. I was on the mobile when I started posting and did not see your post.

Sorry for the confusion .. sorry you understand what I also tried to do ? SOrry.

All I can tell you know is above. There was photo's supposed to be taken - sorry the "authorities" had other ideas :(

Cheers - maybe post last one before I leave.


10th Jul 2003, 01:08
As you may have observed from the above posts which have been copied here from a thread on the African forum, the Flying Bomb, as the popular press liked to call it, has been found, impounded and the crew arrested in Beirut. What you may also have sensed from the above posts is that several PPRuNers were directly involved in the tracking, finding and securing of the 'rogue' B727.

Perhaps this should serve as a warning to all those dodgy leasing companies, often based in Miami, with very underhand and usually unlawful payloads, that PPRuNers in aviation are very likely to spot what is going on and, as in this case, reveal the whereabouts of the a/c. Tsk tsk. :cool:

Remember, you read about the discovery of the 'missing' B727 here first! ;)

10th Jul 2003, 02:56
I'm confused. For those of us not in the loop what's the story (the bits not sub judicae anyway) ?

Is the Beirut airplane the same as "3X-GOM" sighted at Conakry ? A report elsewhere has 3X-GDM ferrying from the Mojave storage to Miami on 26 June 2003. Obviously this cannot be the repo'ed fuel-hauler which had been on the ground in Africa 'for 14 months'.

I find it hard to believe it went all the way back to California before ending up in Beirut. Got to be two different planes, surely ? The serial numbers should prove it one way or the other, N844AA is 20985.

11th Jul 2003, 16:22
It strikes me that this story has reached beyond the bounds of credibility aptly demonstrated by the various security services reports of WMD and their endemic concern for any security incidents that can be spun, as if they have nothing else to do.

What it proves to me is that there are vast numbers of closet anoraks as displayed by the massive world media interest on an incident that is blown out of all proportion.

12th Jul 2003, 00:35
If the closet anorak epithet was aimed at me, then I freely admit to being guilty as charged. Mind you I wouldn't go so far as to use a reggie for my userid :p

Of course 99% of what the media reported was nonsense, but then we're not allowed to discuss the media on this forum. Obviously something untoward happened and despite unsubstantiated claims on PPRuNe, I'm not convinced the plane has been found. If the crew still has not resurfaced, then the possibility of a worst-case scenario exists - it's at the bottom of the ocean near the Seychelles.

I'm waiting for the full story. If anybody has it then post it for heavens sake and we can all move on :confused:

12th Jul 2003, 02:25
A few bits of information along with a generous dollop of the usual journo angle :A perfect flying bomb disappears (http://thestar.ca/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1057875015198&call_pageid=968332188854&col=968350060724)

Nice piccie in the paper (no reggie as the photog wanted to keep a low profile) sadly unavailable on-line:ugh:

12th Jul 2003, 12:59
Here's a somewhat different spin from CNN:

Missing jetliner spurs terrorism concerns

U.S. adds to military forces in Horn of Africa

Saturday, July 12, 2003 Posted: 12:46 AM EDT (0446 GMT)

Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson on the missing 727: The U.S. military "would not hesitate to shoot it down."

(CNN) -- The recent disappearance of a Boeing 727 along with a resurgence of terror activities near the Horn of Africa have spurred the United States to add new combat power to the region, the senior U.S. commander based in the area has said.

"We've been in a more aggressive posture for over a month," Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Djibouti on Friday.

The Horn of Africa sits across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, which is the homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Robeson told CNN he had identified an "operational need" for Air Force F-16 and F-15E aircraft along with Navy F/A-18s, when a Boeing 727 vanished after leaving Angola's Luanda airport in May.

He has asked the Pentagon to reassign the aircraft to the French military base in Djibouti. It is unclear when the Pentagon might act on his request.

U.S. officials are not sure what happened to the 727, but they say the possibility exists that the aircraft is in the hands of terrorists. Other reports have suggested the plane's owner took it from the airport in a financial dispute.

"We have the ability to identify it from other airplanes in the air," Robeson said. He added that if it appears, the U.S. military "would not hesitate to shoot it down."

Robeson noted that all 727s in the region fly on approved commercial air routes, so if this plane were to appear suddenly, it would be deemed a threat. He noted the continuing threat of an attack from aircraft in the region.

Robeson said the U.S. fighter aircraft are being requested in order to pursue a "more aggressive campaign" against terrorists in the region now that the situation in Iraq no longer requires large numbers of aircraft to conduct missions.

The Horn of Africa sits across from Yemen, Osama bin Laden's homeland.
There have been intermittent deployments of fighters to the Horn of Africa in the past, but mainly on long missions that originate and then return to bases in the Persian Gulf.

By deploying from Djibouti, the planes could fly over the area for longer periods of time than planes that must refuel elsewhere.

Robeson said his request is for four to six aircraft to be deployed from Camp Lemonier on an intermittent basis. They would supplement French Mirage jets and radars providing air-defense coverage for the base.

But, he said, the planes could potentially be used to protect U.S. ground forces involved in any future military counterterrorism missions.

The request to put planes in Djibouti "signals an increased emphasis on the counterterrorism war in the Horn of Africa," Robeson said. According to the AP, Robeson referred directly to al Qaeda as a target of "selective actions."

Robeson told the AP that in the past four months, he's noticed "a pretty active flow" of terrorists into or through the Horn of Africa.

"We've definitely seen an increase not just in presence but in active transnational terrorist planning" he told the AP.

This week, a U.S. military assessment team has been at Camp Lemonier to try to determine what it would take to have the Air Force and Navy aircraft operate out of the base on a routine, temporary basis, according to a statement released by the Pentagon on Thursday.

The Combined Joint Task Force for the Horn of Africa, formed in late 2002, is charged with conducting any operations that might be needed to counter terrorist activities in the region, including in Yemen.

Between 1,300 and 1,600 U.S. ground forces are stationed at Camp Lemonier, according to the AP. They include infantry and special operations forces from all the services. Helicopters and refueling aircraft are based there, but no fighters or bombers, the AP reported.

14th Jul 2003, 18:45
at Beirut International Lebanon 07jul03 3X-GOM B727 ex American c/s, no titles, small flag on tail parked at gate 7 or 6 or so

28th Jul 2003, 07:24
Yes, I am Joseph B. Padilla, SR.
I am the brother of the suspected pilot of the missing Boeing 727 from Angola on May 25 2003.
If anyone has any new information on the where-abouts of my brother, please e-mail me at, [email protected]
I found your site today and I am hoping someone will know if the plane has been found or not.
Thank you,
Joseph B. Padilla, SR.
Phone - 850-944-9688
Pensacola, FL.

28th Jul 2003, 13:21

I wish you can get your brother, Joseph.

My wish is that I can get my friend's reputation back.

I have not seen my friend yet (only 8 Aug as I am on leave) but as far as I know he leased the aircraft from Lebanon via a legitimate broker in Miami ???

In the mean time he just had B I E G 5h!t !~! (As far as I hear)


arthur harbrow
10th Aug 2003, 22:30
There is an article in the Sunday Telegraph magazine on this subject.

11th Aug 2003, 02:09
Got a URL where we can read that article, Arthur?

11th Aug 2003, 17:46
The article was in the "Telegraph Magazine" of Sunday 10 August.

I cannot find it on their website.

12th Aug 2003, 22:00
NBC's Tom Brokaw is going to do a piece on this plane tonight, at 18.30hrs EST.

13th Aug 2003, 07:15
According to NBC, plane has not been seen since its disapearance.

13th Aug 2003, 21:49
Interesting piece last night on NBC. Wish it had been longer. If the terrorists did get it they are a little smarter than average choosing the fastest readily available commercial aircraft flying. :(

13th Aug 2003, 22:08
From NBC(12/8):

Investigators still do not what happened to a Boeing 727 cargo jet that vanished from an Angolan airport in May, but they have now concluded that the jet likely ended up being given a new appearance and put to use in Africa’s thriving illegal market for planes, possibly in gun-running or narcotics smuggling, U.S. officials and aviation experts told NBC News. Click “Play Video” for Lisa Myers’ report for “NBC Nightly News.”

Play video - http://www.msnbc.com/news/951689.asp

13th Aug 2003, 22:39
What puzzles me is that they are still talking surprised that an aircraft can be stolen........:\

13th Aug 2003, 23:56
So it wasn't 3XGOM 'found' in Beirut (as claimed here) then ?

14th Aug 2003, 00:27
A mindless rehash of old news.

The barrage of Lacy Peterson, Kobe Bryant and mindless celebrity news must periodically have an aviation hysteria story thrown in. It is written policy in all the 25 year old news producers handbooks.

12th Sep 2003, 11:55
The latest theory:

Stolen Boeing 727 Feared In Hands of al-Qaeda


Ten retirement points for the first to find a geographical error.

12th Sep 2003, 12:12
A week or two ago there was a story about the plane hidden away on an inner page of the Washington Post. It quoted "authorities" as saying:

1) The plane seen in Bierut was not the missing plane.

2) They didn't know where the plane was, but assumed that it had crashed or was being parted out.

In my best conspiracy theory mode, I wondered if it was a planted story since it was just a summary after a long idle period and not written by their main aviation writer.


Iron City
12th Sep 2003, 21:25
Seacue: I don't think Don Phillips would touch it without real information. As I recall it it was a wire service tearoff.

Floppy Link
12th Sep 2003, 23:40
plane hidden away on an inner page of the Washington Post

I knew it was a big newspaper, but......:p

13th Sep 2003, 00:37
Floppy quotes me (out of context)
plane hidden away on an inner page of the Washington Post.
Then Floppy says:
I knew it was a big newspaper, but......

I just KNEW I'd get some response to that sentence. Parse it more carefully and you'll see what was hidden was
"a story about the plane".

Thanks for the lighter moment...


13th Sep 2003, 03:05
Something smells in this latest stroy. Why would al Queda use a 727 loaded with fuel to bring down another airliner? You could do that with a small prop plane. They would be wasting a weapon....and they are not that stupid. The story smells like mis-information made to get a reaction.

13th Sep 2003, 06:24
AdamCG--I'd like my retirement points directly credited towards my checking account please, thank you.


Who's taking this story seriously? From a website called Bush Country? Noting that the Sahara is in East Africa?

Yeah, this is misinformation all right. Exploiting a story to perpetuate the "War on Evildoers, Killers, and other Really Bad Men."

Gag me.:yuk:

13th Sep 2003, 20:28
That must be one of the scariest websites I have ever seen. Now don't get me wrong, I like americans but if this is a public image machine America as a nation has to seriously take a good look at itself. :E

14th Sep 2003, 01:59
Using the 727 for a 11/9 type attack sounds possible to me, but the one of it trying to have a mid-air collision with a BA flight seems a bit exaggerated...............needs quite a good pilot to judge a collision spot on at such a fast closing rate.

14th Sep 2003, 05:20
This story seems to contain a more likely reason why BA felt able to resume flights...


Small extract:

"On Thursday it was reported that Saudi authorities had seized missiles near Jeddah airport capable of bringing down a passenger aircraft and which had been smuggled from Yemen".

ATC Watcher
14th Sep 2003, 14:24
RE the bushcountry web site : suddendly I understand better Michael Moore ....
The article gives the assumption that the author is informed but it is a lot of bull:mad:
quote :
Intelligence officers have been authorised to pay substantial sums to nomadic Arabs who roam the Sahara for any clues as to where the Boeing is hidden.
Anyone knowing the sub Sahara and the Touaregs would laugh out loud at such thing !
Sahara in East Africa ! ( already mentionned )
The B727 own navigation system able to track a BAW jet making an APP ? with 2 VOR and 2 ADF ?
The "tanker" 727 carrying more fuel than a 767 ?

I hope Bush is better advised than those guys in that web site...

15th Sep 2003, 20:56

I don't think they mean head on. Logically the 727 would be closing from behind. There is no commercial airliner out there that can outrun a 727 that has the throttles wide open from behind.

ATC Watcher,

This particular airplane uses the entire fuselage to carry fuel. Now I don't know if that is more than a 767, but certainly the fuselage of a 727 is much larger than a 767s wing box and wings???

Maybe the Saudi should keep those missles they found near the airport handy and manned. They may need to shoot this thing down.

ATC Watcher
15th Sep 2003, 21:53
747Focal : from an earlier post :
quote :
American Airlines B-727 reg.#N844AA , and it was converted to a fuel tanker last year. It has ten 500 gallon aluminum tanks bolted to the floor with 4 inch valves on each tank joined together by 4 inch high pressure hoses leading to the aft where refueling is accomplished. There is also a very unique vent system which allows almost zero fumes into the aircraft. The tanks are held to the seat tracks in four corners buy half inch bolts.(I would hate to see where the tanks would end up if a few G's were pulled)

I do not think 5000 gal + full 727-100 does makes up for a full 767-300 , but I stand to be corrected.

15th Sep 2003, 22:30
ATC Watcher,

I decided to get off my duff and look at the official tech specs and you are correct.

727 Fuel capacity:

9806 gallons + 5000 gallons = 14,806 gallons

767 Fuel Capacity = 23,980 gallons

I think that distorter(reporter) got it backwards. :E


international hog driver
16th Sep 2003, 03:53
If some one can host it here, i'll send it, mail me.

16th Sep 2003, 07:37
Closing the other aircraft from behind sounds more realistic though still a bit far fetched, then again one can never say.........

16th Sep 2003, 15:09
Surely it makes no difference that this 727 has been refitted as a tanker.

I would have thought passenger 727 going maximum chicken up the jacksy would ruin your day just as much as a fully laden 727 tanker.

Filling the 727 with fuel would just make it heavier and put a dent in the Amex gold card.

16th Sep 2003, 21:06

Maybe they want a huge flaming fireball to rain down on the city. I wonder just how fast a 727 can get going at 1000 ft above sea level. :(

16th Sep 2003, 22:18
390kts. IAS is VNE at a 1000 ft. And it will do it easy, done it.

16th Sep 2003, 22:50
Thats around what I was thinking. I bet if you had the nads to fly through the shaker you would prolly get more until the wings came off.

gear down props forward
17th Sep 2003, 08:01

Courtesy of International Hog Driver, here is a picture of a 727 tanker's cabin, location: Africa.

http://vei.twu.net/pics/727tanker-thumb.jpg (http://vei.twu.net/pics/727tanker-large.jpg)

A 727-100 Tanker (click on this picture to see a larger, more detailed picture of the cabin). As mentioned previously, "quantity ten, 500-gallon tanks."


Gear Down Props Forward

17th Sep 2003, 09:39
International Hog Driver!

Is that the inside of the missing 727? Or just a picture of one setup as a tanker?

17th Sep 2003, 10:01
I believe that's the 727 in question.

international hog driver
17th Sep 2003, 15:14
No its not 844AA, its someone else's however the set up is generally the same in all of them.


17th Sep 2003, 21:03
Can this system be modified to feed the airplane itself?

18th Sep 2003, 00:01
This type of setup is certainly not new to aviation.

Good friend of mine years ago outfitted two DC-6's with extra cabin tanks (2000 gallons) , for a south pole series of flights.
The extra fuel was used to re-supply ground tanks, and in addition was plumbed to feed the engines enroute.

This all worked fine until one day the bonehead pilot, who insisted to keep the mixtures in autolean during approach/landing (ISO autorich, as the checklist mentioned), wanted to overshoot, cobbed the throttles, found no power available, and crashed.
Everyone walked away, but the aeroplane was a total loss.

Moral to the story...listen to the Flight Engineer.

18th Sep 2003, 02:19
411A--My understanding of that crash is that they were low on fuel. That's why the mixtures were left leaned out.

I'm not defending the action but there's a little more to the story (as usual). Anyone who's flown over remote terrain or transoceanic knows how unforgiving a simple mistake can be.

And, yes, the FE should be listened to.
Fly safe.

20th Sep 2003, 06:22
If someone wants to post an actual photo of the tanks installed on N844AA I will be happy to forward it you. I do not have the means to post the picture on the PPrune.

21st Sep 2003, 00:38
This is the photo of that stolen 727's internal tankage setup (allegedly 6000 US gallons) - not sure if it is usable for range extension - or just A to B tankerage.

IMHO that aircraft is still a terrorist threat until such time as its fate is credibly determined - and proof positive of any claims being ascertained. Disinformation is still a useful terrorist tool.


Thanks to Fesmokie for providing it. Faces are blanked out due to provider's request.

21st Sep 2003, 01:03
I can assure you that this tank setup was not used for range extension for the aircraft. Loading and unloading of the fuel was performed from a connect point at the aft end using a single hose to the ground and to a gas powered pump. All the tanks had shutoff valves and were connected to a common manifold to the aft of the aircraft.:ok:

John Farley
21st Sep 2003, 01:30

Assessing whether you are on a collision course with another aircraft is remarkably simple. The other aircraft will not move in your transparency. It just grows bigger. This applies regardless of the aspect.

So, if you look (say) 85 deg left and happen to see another aircraft at about your height and on a similar heading, place a chinagraph spot over the other aircraft and if it stays behind the spot you made you WILL hit it in due course unless one of you changes something.

This is a very useful thing to appreciate.

It is also why some guys make better fighter pilots than others - they find it easier to set up such a situation deliberately.

21st Sep 2003, 09:10

If you can't hijack a 767 full of fuel, why not fly a smaller, less obvious plane laden with extra fuel tanks --on a legitimate flight plan.

This plane needs to be found -and quickly.


21st Sep 2003, 15:59
Unless this aircraft is being flown unpressurised, which is structurally inadvisable for the 727, there would be considerable engineering problems in using these tanks for range extension. They are in the cabin and the aircraft fuel system is outside.

21st Sep 2003, 17:14
Considerable engineering problem? Actually it is quite easy. Ferry fuel systems on pressurized aircraft rarely need fuel transfer pumps. The pressure differential is used to move the fuel. "T" into existing lines and simply open the valve when you are ready for transfer

27th Sep 2003, 03:42
So with that senerio, how far could that aircraft fly with the additional 6000 US gallons of fuel?

I wish that aircraft and the people on board would be found...



28th Sep 2003, 21:43
Point conceded Ferrydude, but this is a very public forum. Perhaps also it would be better if LPJ's question remained unanswered.

Golden Rivit
30th Sep 2003, 08:44
Explore these links, and look for a common link. Is the seller a convicted bogus aircraft parts dealer ? It seems that this story is rotten to the core? http://www.landings.com/evird.acgi?pass=57509425&ref=-&mtd=41&cgi=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fnph-search_nnr&var=0&buf=66&src=_landings%2Fpages%2Fsearch_nnr.html&nnumber=N844AA+ http://77.aviatorsale.com/aix708 http://www.businessweek.com/1996/24/b34791.htm

30th Sep 2003, 22:49

The extra fuel effectively doubles the range of the 727. I don't think you will see them try to jump across the pond from Africa and fly a completely empty airplane into anything. Any 727 flying across the pond probably ends up with a fighter inspection these days anyway. More likely they would try for a high speed jump across the Mediteranean and make a stab at Buckingham Palace.

I wish they would find it too.

Golf Charlie Charlie
30th Sep 2003, 23:00
Huh ? And you don't think an arrival 60 miles into UK airspace would not also have been met with a fighter inspection ? Not to mention a 600 mile transit over France.....

1st Oct 2003, 00:16
The French would grant overflight permission. It is only US military that they deny the rights to.

1st Oct 2003, 00:31
Most 727s are flown domestically in the USA with some flying in from the South and north. Only Private 727s with long range tanks fly the pond. Pretty easy to check that few out. The EU has 727s coming from all directions, especially Africa. Not hard to copy Air Algerie paint scheme and make it look like your going to Heathrow. :(

Golf Charlie Charlie
1st Oct 2003, 01:12
OK, so how disruptive to the few existing operators would it be to ban all 727s from existing UK airspace - at least without the most exhaustive pre-flight planning and authorisations...?

And I realize that it may set a dangerous precedent once a country starts banning an aircraft type....

1st Oct 2003, 02:24
Not so sure that is doable. Besides, they would then just steal a transponder from a similiar size aircraft(ie. 757) that is in for maintenance and fly as that airplane. :(

1st Oct 2003, 02:28
I don't quite understand your comment about transponder...
It is not transmitting anything else except the code and altitude and code is entered by pilot.

1st Oct 2003, 02:51
I thought they send more info than that. Well I suppose they could steal the transponder of the 757 and then file a flight plan as that aircraft......... Hopefully there are checks and balances for these types of situations.

1st Oct 2003, 03:23
I'm sorry to say that it would be a piece of pi$$ to fly under an asumed identity. It can easily be done when departing from some parts of the world. To avoid any flak I won't go into detail but if they have anyone with an OPS and an ATC background they could easily take advantage of the many loopholes which exist.

1st Oct 2003, 03:35
That really bites!!! :mad:

I wonder why it shows as in operation with YAV (IRS Airlines) based in Nigeria? :confused:

1st Oct 2003, 06:12

The story rehashed. No real new information.

1st Oct 2003, 13:22
I wonder why it shows as in operation with YAV (IRS Airlines) based in Nigeria?

Where does it show that 747? :confused:


1st Oct 2003, 21:48

I think looking at my profile, especially the city I live in should give you some indication of where I get my info. :)

I am probably thinking about this issue more than I should, but the one thing I kept stumbling on last night is if it has fallen into the hands of terrorists why steal it and point the worlds finger at it?

These terrorists have enough money to buy any plane they want on the open market. They easily could set up a dummy cargo airline using their pilots and start aquiring aircraft. Lets be realistic, they don't care about the money. :(

Maybe......the theft of this aircraft is meant as a diversion to keep the intelligence agencies busy, meanwhile they are implementing a darker plan. :ugh:

2nd Oct 2003, 20:28
This is being reported as a "crash" yet the aircraft dissapeared from radar and no trace of wreckage has been found. Another "missing" aircraft???

Dubai:Tuesday, September 30, 2003

No trace of Bahraini pilot, F-16 wreckage
Manama |By Mohammed Almezel, Bureau Chief | 30-09-2003
Print friendly format | Email to Friend

Teams from the Bahrain army and the US Navy have failed to locate the body of a Bahraini pilot whose Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed at sea on Saturday, sources said yesterday.

A statement, carried by the Bahrain news agency (BNA), said yesterday His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was "personally following the strenuous efforts of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) and a number of friendly forces in the search operation of the missing Bahraini fighter jet."

Bahraini, American and Australian rescue teams have been involved in patrols to the north of Bahrain where the F-16 vanished from radar screens on Saturday night, local reports said yesterday.

However, the search has failed to recover the body of the pilot, Royal Air Force Colonel Abdul Aziz Senan Al Doussary, who is presumed dead or the plane's wreckage, an informed source told Gulf News yesterday.

Al Doussary "seems to have plunged to his death" when his single-pilot plane crashed in the Arabian Gulf, some 46 miles north of Bahrain, Gulf News learned.

The incident took place during a night training mission involving another plane, which has returned safely to its base, the source said, adding that Col Senan was apparently performing "a new manoeuvre" when the plane crashed.

This is the first fighter jet crash ever in Bahrain, the source said.

A passenger aircraft, a Gulf Air Airbus 320-212 coming from Egypt, crashed at sea about three miles north-east of Bahrain International Airport on August 23, 2000 resulting in the death of 135 passengers and its eight-member crew.

2nd Oct 2003, 22:12
Those links are interesting..I wonder if it might have been broken up for black market spares?

Golf Charlie Charlie
3rd Oct 2003, 02:08
More than four months on, you'd have thought it would have turned up by now. Then again, I have to admit, we can't find bin Laden, Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction.

On the other hand, I think it more likely that the aircraft crashed into the sea or into the African jungle/desert. And in the latter it might be difficult to locate from the air in a very remote location.

3rd Oct 2003, 02:17
We thought it likely that nobody would crash airplanes into buildings as well.

Engine overtemp
3rd Oct 2003, 02:19
Practicing several times a week it says here (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/031002/325/ea1t1.html)

3rd Oct 2003, 03:43
Gee, I thought they had had enough practice already. How much do they need?
I'll feel much happier flying across the US in an airliner now with all these safety measures in place, and knowing that they aren't trigger happy at all............oo err....:\

3rd Oct 2003, 03:46
This is why they have to:


Scary days to be flying a 727. :(

international hog driver
3rd Oct 2003, 04:52
Wonder where he did the type rating? Well at least if he’s the skipper then that’s one less problem to worry about. He’ll be off enjoying the after life soon enough, I hear its pretty hard to power a dialysis machine in an Afghan cave in winter.:E :E :E

6th Oct 2003, 22:26
And the story (and speculation) continues, from AVWEB. I hope someone reports some information that leads to discovery, and soon.


7th Oct 2003, 08:18
The mechanic in Beirut, according to Padilla, said the aircraft was located inside a hangar and would be used for an aerial attack against the Israeli government.Well then , mystery solved. Obviously a mechanic would have more info than the world's intelligence agencies :*. I still think it crashed near the Seychelles.

7th Oct 2003, 09:35
Well if they can't find hundreds of tonnes of CBW weapons, nuclear research programmes, Saddam or Bin Laden why would you expect them to find a single 727 in the African Bush.

Perhaps the African equivalent of the Gippos took it for scrap one night. On the other hand if you are going to nick several thousand gallons of aviation fuel it has to be easier to take it already loaded than to syphon it out amd take it away in jerry cans strapped to the handlebars of your bike.

It wasn't the local equivalent of Rag week when it got pinched was it?

20th Oct 2003, 07:20
Is there any new News or Rumors on the missing 727?

If it had crashed you would think the wreckage would have been spotted by now.

This was posted on the African Aviation forum a few days ago, I wonder if it has any relation?

Press article
From News24:

'Mystery plane' seized

Angola - Authorities in Angola's central highlands seized a plane on Tuesday which had entered the country's air space without permission, Transport Minister Andre Luis Brandao said.

The plane was being held at the airport in Kuito, 580km southeast of the capital Luanda, Brandau said.

Brandao said authorities were investigating the incident and that for the moment there were no details regarding the type of plane involved, where it had come from or if it was carrying passengers.

Monitoring Angola's skies is difficult due to a lack of modern equipment.

In May, a plane vanished from Luanda airport prompting an international security alert amid fears it could be used in terrorist attacks.

20th Oct 2003, 11:58
It is scary knowing that Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group could have this 727, and perhaps it was found, but either way, that photograph above of Bin Laden supposedly standing inside the aircraft looks fake. The body is moving, however the head is still, and looks as though it has been pasted on to the body. Could just be a tactic used by anyone to scare people. It just doesnt look real, can anyone else see this? It isnt hard to notice. The body image is blurred and the head is perfect. Just doesnt work! :suspect:


20th Oct 2003, 12:06
VH-KMH go back to page 9 on this thread and you will see the actual photo. Someone was having a bit of fun, with OBLs

Weren't ya 747Focal!;)

Ignition Override
20th Oct 2003, 12:17
The FO on my last trip told me that he went with his late father (began at TWA as a Connie FE) to repossess aircraft (DC-9s, 727s, 707s) from various countries, such as some in Africa and even from mainland China.

I told him about this thread and he knows how easy it is to remove aircraft from Africa, especially with a very experienced mechanic/Flight Engineer and lot of spare parts.

20th Oct 2003, 13:23
haha yeah, so he was! Nice one 747focal.

cheers for telling me littlepuddlejumper!

feel like bit of a dick now! haha.




20th Oct 2003, 21:36
Yah gotta love photoshop! :}

21st Oct 2003, 11:41
I can't beleive you took my photo and turned it into such a discrace!!!!!!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!

Great Job... I Love it and wish I would of thought of it first.;)

5th Nov 2003, 22:20
I wonder if we will see this aircraft during the Muslim Ramadan Holiday. :suspect:

cargo boy
5th Nov 2003, 22:27
Why? Is there a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or any other Ramadan holiday? :rolleyes:

If you're going to make a statement (assuming you were being rhetorical) then at least let us know what your real xenophobic feelings. :hmm:

5th Nov 2003, 23:11
cargo boy,

Come on now. It was just speculation intended on fostering debate. I am not a racist, though I do hate idiots. :p

It is all over the news that Uncle Osama and the little pickle crew are intending on staging a big event in Suadi during Ramadan. :ooh:

6th Nov 2003, 07:08
Yes, we'd all like that aircraft to be found.

After the WTC/Pentagon attacks, we have a tendency to think that the bad guys will just try to do something similar again.

But we know Osama bin Creepo is Macchiavellian and always thinks of *new bigger* things, rather than repeating *old smaller* things.

Question: if stolen aircraft with extra fuel flies across the Mediterranean or the Atlantic, by the time it gets to its destination, hasn't it used up a lot of the fuel so it isn't as good a weapon? The point of having a lot of fuel is to do your attack as near the beginning of the flight as possible. So flying to Tel Aviv instead seems more likely - but that may not be a trivial distance either, depending of course on starting point.

But now, what if the fuel *isn't* the weapon, but something else being transported *is* the weapon? Then, flying all the way to England (although I don't really think Creepo is interested in England) or to USA would still be worthwhile.

What if all along we've been thinking mickey mouse small potatoes while Creepo's been thinking big?

What I'm getting at is that it has always troubled me that Pakistan has, gulp,


and Creepo is currently believed to be in Pakistan.

Obviously USA, England, and others would be watching like hawks for any Pakistan-nuke-Creepo linkup, right? But can we take it for granted? Although the Pakistani leader has supported certain aspects of the US efforts, can we be confident such a linkup is impossible, such as through renegade engineers, etc.? Or "former Soviet" sources and others?

Of course, getting access to a nuke is much harder than getting access to a 727, so if Creepo had accomplished the former then he presumably would have the resources to simply buy a transport aircraft and not have to heist one in Angola.

Anyway the point I'm making is, everyone should be alert to the possibility that the stolen 727, or for that matter any other airliner acquired in any other manner, could be used, either in the near future or the medium or more distant future, to transport a, gulp, nuke to Tel Aviv, London, or New York.

Is everyone attuned to this idea?
Jetliners-as-fuel-bombs post-2001 is now small time stuff.
Creepo doesn't think small, he thinks big.


I think the subject matter of this post needs to be a part of the public discussion (if it isn't already - but I haven't seen it anywhere), and is not something "dangerous to post in a public forum". But I'll report this post to the moderators myself to make sure they agree.

5th Jan 2004, 21:27
If the jet that crashed is truly registered 3X-GDM it is not the stolen plane. 3x-GDM was serialized as 21089 from the factory. The stolen 727 was serialized 20985.

Golden Rivit
19th Mar 2004, 03:08
Any new updates?

Dagger Dirk
19th Mar 2004, 05:38
Well, might be stating the bleedin obvious but if a Mr Joseph Padilla was aboard the Merc's 727 nicked in Harare (as reported on that thread) and a Mr Padilla was last seen zipping away in that Angola 727, it might be concluded that the mercs have a 727 fetish. All the bleedin heart emails circulating about the missing Padilla Esq (and purporting to have come from his brother) may just have been disinformation.

I get the impresssion that the mercs aren't very smart or that they got dobbed in - or that the Zimbabwean plods are better than one would assume (or a little each from column A thru C).

Starting to look like a great plot for a film. Suggestions for a title for said film?

"the Bogs of War"
"Now where did I park my Merc?"
"That's the Third Merc I've had Towed Away this week"
"Oh no, my Merc's been Clamped"

Methinks they're all destined to become farm laborers.

20th Mar 2004, 20:26
I wonder if anyone was ever sure that Keith Irwin hired Ben Padilla for the repo..I would think that the broker Mike Gabriel would be more likely to know Capt Padilla.

23rd Mar 2004, 13:25
I don't think anyone suggested that Keith Irwin was involved with the repo job, if thats what it was. I would think that Gabriel would be one of many who are hunting for Irwin to repo his ass.:mad:

23rd Mar 2004, 19:24
I talked to Joseph Padilla and he says Maury Joseph of Aerospace Leasing admits to hiring Ben Padilla...I wonder what his exact instructions for Padilla were??? Does anyone know Mr Gabriel or Mr John Mikel Mutantu????

23rd Mar 2004, 21:10
I thought that Maury and Mr Gabriel were from the same outfit in Miami. I guess I,m not to sure now who's who anymore. :mad: Also. I would be very surprised if Irwin paid Maury in full for the use of this airplane from when he initially took it to Angola in March of 2002.

19th Apr 2004, 16:44
Here's a story on the subject from today's ABCNews.com:

29th Apr 2004, 12:16
American Airlines Boeing 727-223/Adv N844AA departed from Luanda Airport (FNLU) in Angola without permission and disappeared. Currently leased to Air Angola from Aerospace Sales & LSG. It was last heard requesting permission to land in the Seychelles however it didn't land after the request and no one seems to know where it is.

The sudden strange disappearance in Angola, of a missing Boeing 727 cargo plane reportedly modified to serve as an air tanker caused panic in US intelligence agencies circles. The aircraft, which vanished without trace from Angola’s main airport on May 25, 2003, reappeared few months ago on June 28, 2003 in Guinean capital Conakry with new paint job sporting a new registration number, before vanishing once again. While the plane has the new tail number, 3XGOM at least the last two letters of its former tail-number, N844AA are still visible.



29th Apr 2004, 12:46
I thought we saw a picture of the supposed repaint and it was determined to be false???

29th Apr 2004, 15:53
One school of opinion is that the 'witness' got the reggie wrong. 3X-GOM has never been registered (or seen by anyone else), 3X-GDM is a different ex-AA 727 (ship 862).


(despite the caption on the above photo, the Benin crash airplane was 3X-GDO).

1st May 2004, 04:47
A photo of the mystery aircraft seen in Conakry was published in the Toronto Star on July 11th, 2003. It is not a very clear photo, and it is possible that the aircraft is indeed 3XGDM, the former N862AA. But there appears to be at least one big difference between the aircraft photographed in Conakry and 3XGDM as depicted in the photo mentioned in the previous posting. The former AA titles are clearly evident - painted over with a big white blotch - in the photo of 3XGDM. Photos of N862AA in storage at Mohave also show this blotch. The aircraft photographed in Conakry, on the other hand, appears to have had its AA titles removed entirely (although it is hard to be sure). This is strange, because the Conakry photo was reportedly taken on June 28th, 2003 - on or about the day N862AA was delivered to Guinea - which would seem to make it unlikely that the 3XGDM photo was taken first.

The aircraft that went mssing in Angola looked almost exactly like N862AA, but its AA titles had been removed, not painted over, so in this respect at least the photo seems to support the witness' claim that he saw N844AA.

1st May 2004, 17:12
The photo seen on Paper Tigers post appears to be closer to being N844AA only because of the paint on the radome. Its exactly as we left it. One of my few photo's taken of N844AA while we were in Abijon or Namibia were taken almost staight on from the nose so, I have nothing much to compare to these most recent photos seen here on the PPrune.

2nd May 2004, 03:03
My point is that the photo of 3XGDM cited by Paper Tiger looks more like N862AA than N844AA. Note the difference in the way the former AA titles are treated in this photo of N862AA at Mohave (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/328235/M/) and this photo of N844AA at Opa Locka (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/217065/M/) shortly before it went to Angola. Except for the addition of a new registration number, Guinean flag and small UTA titles painted right on top of the blotch covering the former AA titles, 3XGDM looks just like N862AA.

The interesting thing about the photo taken by the Conakry witness (published in the Toronto Star, but unfortunately not available online) is that it seems to show a former AA 727 with its AA titles removed, not painted over - i.e. it seems to show an aircraft that looks more like N844AA than N862AA. Did N844AA still look like it did in the Opa Locka photo when you last saw it, Fesmokie?

(On a side note, just to reiterate what Paper Tiger said, notwithstanding the captions on some photos, 3XGDM is not the aircraft that crashed in Benin. That was 3XGDO, the former N865AA.)

2nd May 2004, 06:50
One theme in the Beirut press that can be checked by interested parties is this: It has been consistently reported that some of the problems faced by aviation authority there revolve around the conviction that the aircraft presented and refused placement on the Lebanese register and which was then shifted to an African country is not the aircraft that crashed.

These reports have been in circulation for many months now.

international hog driver
2nd May 2004, 09:13
I can confirm 844AA had the titles removed as the linked picture shows, when it was here in LAD / FNLU.

As far as the boys down here in SWA are concerned 844AA was either parted out for UTA, rebirthed for UTA or there are (were) 3 of these ex AA machines masquerading with only two regos.

The last option is the most likely and some how not surprising at all knowing Africa.:rolleyes:

2nd May 2004, 13:18
That's excactly where it was parked in (Opa Locka), what it looked like at the time and where we departed from for Angola on Feb 28 2002. Nothing on the exterior was changed while I was on the aircraft in Luanda.

2nd May 2004, 16:59
I wasn't suggesting that 3X-GDM was anything other than ex-862AA, just that maybe it was the one seen by the Canadian pilot. (Pity nobody scanned the nespaper photo). Of course as pointed out, there may have been (still be ?) two 3X-GDMs either by design or accident. Many a reggie has been applied in error to the wrong airplane. Another point is that the Guinee register is very orderly - allocations in strict sequence, no personalized marks. Thus a sudden 'jump' to a legitimate 3X-GOM seems out of the question. And D and O are just too close visually for me to accept the reported sighting at face value.

One other aspect (the resolution of which I may have missed). Original reports talked of a 'landing request' at Mahe. I have not seen this confirmed, refuted or even investigated, it just seems to have been quietly ignored. Was there such a transmission ? If so then surely there's a record of it somewhere, including the callsign, which would end the confusion. Maybe.

If they did make the call and the plane and crew immediately thereafter completely and seemingly permanently disappeared then... you draw your own conclusions :( .

3rd May 2004, 02:05
OK, here it is, now available online: the photo that was published by the Toronto Star.



As you can see, it is not very clear. Light can play funny tricks at oblique angles, but it doesn't look to me like there is a big white blotch on the fuselage where the AA titles used to be.

FWIW, the Toronto Star article also quotes the Conakry witness as saying he saw 44AA on the plane, not just the last two letters of the reg as most reports say.

Paper Tiger's comments on the Guinea register are very interesting. The registration 3XGOM does sound highly unlikely. But maybe, as he said, there were two 3XGDMs, at least for a while. Some reports say 3XGDM - or one of them, anyway - went off to storage in Libya as 3DAAK. Anyone heard anything along those lines?

I have the feeling the Beirut angle, which Chutney mentioned, is well worth following up. Unfortunately (for me, not the Lebanese), a lot of the Beirut reporting on UTA is in Arabic. Anyone here read Arabic? Also, what about the people on PPRUNE who said they saw the plane in Beirut in July 03? Have they ever provided any details of the appearance of the aircraft they saw, or how much of the former reg they saw?

4th May 2004, 16:48
Used to regularly see an ex AA aircraft in Beirut. I am not certain but seem to remember that this aircraft operating from Beirut was later involved in a crash just after take-off somewhere in Africa when doing a charter. There was later speculation about overloading.

4th May 2004, 19:56
That picture link doesn't work but this one (http://www.geocities.com/eestig2004/) seems to.

Not much help anyway, since it shows the other side of the airplane. The UTA 'patch' isn't visible but it's entirely possible it was only applied to the left (pax) side. Jury still out :confused: .

6th May 2004, 03:21
That's a good point about the UTA titles. They may very well have been applied only to the left side. And for all we know, they may not have been applied even on that side when the photo was taken.

But we do know that the white paint patch covering the former AA titles was already on the left side. That was applied in the U.S., long before N862AA ever went to Guinea, as the photo at Mohave (linked in an earlier posting) clearly shows. I haven't seen any photos of the right side of N862AA at Mohave. But such patches were applied to many former AA aircraft at Mohave, evidently as a means of quickly removing the AA titles, so I think it is a fair assumption that the titles on both sides of the aircraft were done, as can be seen in these two photos of N865AA, for example (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/349791/M/ and http://www.jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=19715).

Still, it *is* only an assumption, and it may be an incorrect one. (The only real alternative, however, is that the AA titles were painted over on one side and removed entirely on the other, and how likely is that?)

To my mind, the bigger question is whether a patch on the righthand side would necessarily show up in the Conakry photo. If the white paint that was used in these patches is fairly reflective, it might reflect the sky about as well at the angle the photo was taken as the silver skin of the fuselage does, obscuring any visible distinction between the two.

Anyone with any views on that question?

6th May 2004, 16:41
The newspaper photo is just too small, I enlarged it digitally and still can't tell for sure. One thing we do know is that 844 had the AA titles and tail logo removed (although the etching remained visible), whereas 862 had them painted over. Search airliners.net for evidence. So is that paint on the tail in the Conakry photo ? I can't tell.

And look at the timing. 862 left Mojave June 26 2003 and the Conakry sighting was on June 28. About the time you would expect it to arrive on delivery. 844 'disappeared' in May 25.

A pity Mr. Strother did not have more anorak genes :8 , the fleet number would have been clearly etched on the nosewheel doors. All* reports say he saw only the last two of the previous reggie, which since all the airframes in question are ex-American, would quite obviously be AA.

On balance, I still think he saw the genuine 3X-GDM.

* although most likely repeated from a single wire service

7th May 2004, 05:50
I have to agree with PaperTiger: the photo is inconclusive.

And the timing does point to N862AA. The only explanation that would involve N844AA on that date, as far as I can see, would be some kind of deliberate effort to confuse people about the identities of the two planes. And while that may not be entirely implausible if we assume that someone may have been trying to "launder" a stolen aircraft, I'm not sure exactly how bringing N844AA to Conakry would have contributed to that goal. Why would that be considered necessary or useful? Maybe there is a reason why it would make sense to do it that way, but what would that be?

On the other hand, the question of how many letters of the former registration were seen by Strother is not so clearcut. What seems to have been the first media report on Strother's sighting, the Guardian article of July 7th (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,992839,00.html), says he saw "at least" the last two letters of the registration. Only in subsequent reports by other media outlets did the "at least" qualifier get dropped. And the Toronto Star article of July 11th ( quotes him as saying explicitly that he saw "44AA". So it seems we have two possibilities here. Maybe the initial reporting didn't get it quite right, or maybe Strother changed his story when people started to point out that "AA" didn't prove anything.

My sense (for what it's worth) is that Strother was sincere in his claim to have seen 44AA, but even if that is correct, memory can play strange tricks on people. Eyewitness evidence is notoriously unreliable, and it could be that he just thought that's what he saw.

At the time the Guardian story came out a few posters on PPRuNe commented that 3XGDM was then in Beirut. PPRuNe Towers said the "full" U.S. registration was visible. But he didn't say what that registration number was. Would he care to say now? And even if it was N862AA and not N844AA, how would that claim jibe with the claim that some or most of the Conakry plane's U.S. registration was covered up? A slap-dash initial paint job might have come off or been removed by the time the plane was seen in Beirut, I suppose. Or maybe there *were* two different planes...

The whole thing is maddeningly inconclusive. On the whole, though, I guess I lean to PaperTiger's view that the Conakry plane probably was just the former N862AA. At least, that's the way I find myself leaning at this moment. Tomorrow's another day...

7th May 2004, 12:54
I still say it's been stripped for parts - "completely knocked down" as they used to say. I wonder if part of the story was that one aircraft has been both regs in order to cover up that 844 has been dismantled and sold - wouldn't you like to see their accounts?

25th Oct 2004, 11:33
Nothing much of news, but here (http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sptimes/722606401.html?MAC=8e309ff6657ba6e48176a17445e6db2e&did=722606401&FMT=FT&FMTS=FT&date=Oct+24%2C+2004&author=SUSAN+TAYLOR+MARTIN&printformat=&desc=Out+of+Africa%2C+into+thin+air%3A+A+jet+vanishes) is an article that appeared recently about the subject.

25th Oct 2004, 12:41
An intriguing story - surprising something that size just disappeared into thin air (pun unintended!)

27th Oct 2004, 05:10
Worked for a guy like this Keith fellow in NY out of JFK for a while on the SD3-60 "Shed". Same story with the pay checks - had to call the bank and quote the account number to find out if it was worth driving to the bank to try and cash it!
Why is aviation so full of guys like this?
Any other folks who flew for TIE (Trans International Express) out there drop me a line and say Hi!
We didn't make any money but we had a great time!

12th May 2005, 12:19
Has there been any news on this since?

13th May 2005, 16:36
Nope. Osama is keeping it hid well.

14th May 2005, 01:47
You know, you could never hide it if it was an A380 :p

14th May 2005, 08:18
Was I dreaming or did someone not post a very detailed blow-by-blow account of several Ex AA 727's in Africa yesterday? It seems to have disappeared or I have woken up!



14th May 2005, 09:56
Oh yes, a very detailed and accurate post was here and mysteriously went away;)

14th May 2005, 12:30
Ok, before the conspiracy theorists get all orgasmic, you may want to understand that whoever makes a post also has the ability to edit or delete it. So, whilst all the conspiracy theorists will no doubt call me a liar, I am fairly sure that no moderator has removed the post and thus, the only conclusion I can come to is that whoever made the post in the first place decided to remove it.

Sorry to disappoint you. You can put those tissues away now. :rolleyes:

14th May 2005, 12:40
Danny, i bet you're one of those people that's trying to convince us that lee harvey oswald shot JFK. :E

15th May 2005, 13:58
The author of the vanished post claimed to have only recently found and read the thread on the missing 727, and stated that he had previously ferried airplanes to Africa. Presumably this both established his bona fides, and explained why he was so late in discoursing om a very long and quite old thread.

He then wrote comprehensively and with what seemed to be great (first hand?) knowledge on the whereabouts of several former AA 727's that were bought by operators in the Dark Continent. The detail was so specific, definitive, and dispositive that it would seem either he had access to logbooks, and/or unpublished government summaries of certain aircraft movements, or he fictionalized some of his data for some reason.

I personally think the former, and I sense the author may subsequently have thought he said too much, or revealed some things that are not otherwise publicly available.

Too bad, because it now only adds to the mystery.

8th Jun 2005, 12:43
That's really too bad.

Hunting that airplane has been a hobby of mine for the last two years, and I could really use some insider perspective.

If the person who posted the disappearing post reads this, I would greatly appreciate it if you would check out my weblog for "what I know" about the case, and email me if you have anything to offer...

Found here:


brain fade
13th Sep 2005, 13:42
Has the 'truth' come out on this incident yet? Who nicked it, for what reason etc?

Just curious

13th Sep 2005, 13:57
...... and the CIA are seeking a pilot with gonads the size of watermellons!!!

13th Sep 2005, 15:02
I wish I could squeeze about 10 grand USD out of him too. Haven't heard anything about him for a couple of years now. He really know's how to stay below the radar.:mad:

13th Sep 2005, 15:12
V1 and fesmokie, last I heard (about a year ago, maybe a bit more) KI was in JHB.......shouldnt be too hard to find?

13th Sep 2005, 20:10
I was chatting with a friend about the scene in central Africa, when he told me that, supposedly, there was a Trident still being flown around the DRC.

He went on to say that you can see aircraft in that region that have been painted using house-paint and a brush along with the usual bizarre collection of East Bloc junk.

But it looks as if the authorities are finally clamping down on some of this wild stuff after so many crashes. What is it, something like ten this year so far?

Miami used to have its Corrosion Corner, with all sorts of vintage wrecks used to haul freight, but that was 25 years ago. I guess Africa is just now catching up. Well, this sort of thing reads better than it lives, I guess.

Trash Hauler
14th Sep 2005, 04:16
Is the infamous Keith Irwin also known as Alan Irwin?

21st Sep 2005, 12:20
V1 and fesmokie....you both haven't been looking very hard, have you? KI is still around and kicking ass.

Try looking here............ ;)

The Limpopo provincial government is investing an initial R30m as part of an R80m programme to upgrade the former Air Force Base Pietersburg, now Polokwane International airport.

V1 Rotate
21st Sep 2005, 21:22
Thanks for that, I'm right on it!