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727 stolen from Angola

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727 stolen from Angola

Old 1st May 2004, 17:12
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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.
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Old 2nd May 2004, 03:03
  #182 (permalink)  
 
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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.)
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Old 2nd May 2004, 06:50
  #183 (permalink)  
 
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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.
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Old 2nd May 2004, 09:13
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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.
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Old 2nd May 2004, 13:18
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EEstig

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.

Last edited by fesmokie; 2nd May 2004 at 17:27.
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Old 2nd May 2004, 16:59
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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 .
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Old 3rd May 2004, 02:05
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OK, here it is, now available online: the photo that was published by the Toronto Star.



http://www.geocities.com/eestig2004/727conakry.jpg

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?

Last edited by EEStig; 3rd May 2004 at 07:33.
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Old 4th May 2004, 16:48
  #188 (permalink)  

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Cool

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.
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Old 4th May 2004, 19:56
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That picture link doesn't work but this one 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 .
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Old 6th May 2004, 03:21
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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?
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Old 6th May 2004, 16:41
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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 , 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
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Old 7th May 2004, 05:50
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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/internatio...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 (http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/944294/posts) 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...
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Old 7th May 2004, 12:54
  #193 (permalink)  
 
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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?
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Old 25th Oct 2004, 11:33
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Nothing much of news, but here is an article that appeared recently about the subject.
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Old 25th Oct 2004, 12:41
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An intriguing story - surprising something that size just disappeared into thin air (pun unintended!)
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Old 27th Oct 2004, 05:10
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Jacob aka Jabba the Hutt

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!
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Old 12th May 2005, 12:19
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Has there been any news on this since?
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Old 13th May 2005, 16:36
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Nope. Osama is keeping it hid well.
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Old 14th May 2005, 01:47
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You know, you could never hide it if it was an A380
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Old 14th May 2005, 08:18
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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!

Weird.

DeepC
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