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727 stolen from Angola

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727 stolen from Angola

Old 13th Jun 2003, 11:47
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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...
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Old 13th Jun 2003, 17:03
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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?
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Old 13th Jun 2003, 19:05
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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.
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Old 14th Jun 2003, 09:39
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Fuel, landing fees, airport dues and catering - Cash.

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

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

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Old 18th Jun 2003, 22:26
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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.
Old 18th Jun 2003, 23:03
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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!
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Old 19th Jun 2003, 16:27
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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.)
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Old 19th Jun 2003, 17:56
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I actually doubt that Flying Bagel, but I do think David Copperfield might have something to do with this.
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Old 19th Jun 2003, 18:56
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BBC News have just picked up on this story....

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Old 19th Jun 2003, 22:04
  #51 (permalink)  
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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!

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Old 19th Jun 2003, 22:18
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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!!
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Old 20th Jun 2003, 03:53
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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 ?
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Old 20th Jun 2003, 08:14
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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.

Last edited by fesmokie; 20th Jun 2003 at 08:41.
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Old 21st Jun 2003, 17:15
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Found this on South African news site

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

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Old 22nd Jun 2003, 21:33
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A 727 with 14,000 gallons of fuel will be a long way out of Africa!
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Old 23rd Jun 2003, 00:25
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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.
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Old 23rd Jun 2003, 04:12
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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.
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Old 24th Jun 2003, 20:27
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This topic just been on CNN with one of the pilot's
brothers speaking about the mystery!
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Old 24th Jun 2003, 21:44
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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 !!

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