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The strange case of N844AA

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posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:26 PM
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In 2003, two men boarded a 727 in Angola, after working on the aircraft to restore it to flying condition. The men started the engines, and without communicating with anyone taxied onto the runway, and took off. That was the last anyone has seen of the plane.

The aircraft was originally purchased by Keith Irwin in 2002. He originally had arranged to lease a 727 and two flight crews to fly fuel to diamond mines in Angola. That deal fell through and he arranged to purchase N844AA for $1M. He put down a deposit of $125,000 and was to pay the balance in 30 days. The seats were removed, and tanks were added, and the aircraft was flown to Africa, which is where trouble started.

There were no landing permits, so it took almost two weeks to get to Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport, where his partners were supposed to pay $220,000. Instead they made excuses about the money. The crew were kept in miserable conditions and were required to surrender their passports. One crew member eventually made up a family emergency and more or less fled the country. A total of 17 flights were eventually made, and one crew member stated it was as bad or worse than flying into a war zone. A crew member that worked on the plane said that at one airport another 727 crashed just before they arrived. The crew survived and they lifted them out, but first went over to the wreckage and stole parts they needed.

Ben Charles Padilla was eventually hired to help repossess the aircraft, and traveled to Angola. There are many conflicting stories about him. Jeff Swain says that Padilla worked for him in Indonesia and they fired him, and after he ran up a $10,000 hotel bill and said the airline would pay it, they deported him. Several people stated that he showed them pictures of a family and said he was supporting a wife and children, but the country they were in kept changing.

In May 2003, Padilla was working with Air Gemini to return the aircraft to service. He had hired a crew to fly the aircraft to South Africa, where a customer was waiting. The day before they were supposed to leave with the aircraft, he made arrangements to take the aircraft out to do an engine run and final checks. That's when he departed with the aircraft and vanished.

The search was on and multiple countries were on the look out for the aircraft, as well as for evidence of a crash in the Atlantic, but no sign of the aircraft was ever found.


Seven years after her brother disappeared from Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport in Angola, Benita Padilla-Kirkland is trying to persuade the FBI to re-open his case. She believes she has the “new information” agents told her they require. But she suspects that the agency already has more information than agents will admit to.

Kirkland’s brother, Ben Charles Padilla, a certified flight engineer, aircraft mechanic, and private pilot, disappeared while working in the Angolan capital, Luanda, for Florida-based Aerospace Sales and Leasing. On May 25, 2003, shortly before sunset, Padilla boarded the company’s Boeing 727-223, tail number N844AA. With him was a helper he had recently hired, John Mikel Mutantu, from the Republic of the Congo. The two had been working with Angolan mechanics to return the 727 to flight-ready status so they could reclaim it from a business deal gone bad, but neither could fly it. Mutantu was not a pilot, and Padilla had only a private pilot’s license. A 727 ordinarily requires three trained aircrew.

According to press reports, the aircraft began taxiing with no communication between the crew and the tower; maneuvering erratically, it entered a runway without clearance. With its lights off and its transponder not transmitting, 844AA took off to the southwest, and headed out over the Atlantic Ocean. The 727 and the two men have not been seen since.

www.airspacemag.com...




posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:34 PM
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That's when he departed with the aircraft and vanished.

The search was on and multiple countries were on the look out for the aircraft, as well as for evidence of a crash in the Atlantic, but no sign of the aircraft was ever found.

maybe it got scrapped…


edit on 19-5-2016 by intrptr because: additional
extra DIV



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:44 PM
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This is a pretty cool story. I'm guessing since the men that took off with it weren't really pilots the assumption is they probably crashed in the ocean?

Or could there have perhaps been a pilot smuggled onboard if the sister feels she has new evidence that the FBI are dragging their feet on.

Thanks for sharing. Surprised you haven't heard assumptions as to what happened in your world of friends....



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:45 PM
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a reply to: onehuman

Everything that is out there is pure speculation. No one knows anything concrete about where it could have gone.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:48 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
According to press reports, the aircraft began taxiing with no communication between the crew and the tower; maneuvering erratically,


Musta been a dodgy remote control then.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:51 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58


Lol well yeah, that's kind of a given. What are your gut thoughts on it?



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:54 PM
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From the above www.airspacemag.com article:
'and headed out over the Atlantic Ocean. The 727 and the two men have not been seen since.'

Business deal gone bad and the plane crashed into the ocean later? An aircraft can 'disappear' over a large body of water, such as an ocean.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 07:56 PM
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a reply to: onehuman

Fraud. They took an almost new aircraft worth a lot of money, and trashed the hell out of it. If it disappears, they get insurance money out of it at least. There's no way, from the sound of things, they were going to get much value out of it by selling it.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:02 PM
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Here is a link to a thread on the same mystery.
Gemini sky's 2014 thread
Maybe there is some info there that will help.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:46 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

If I remember correctly, isn't one of the competing theories for this disappearance that the shady African "business partners" leasing the airplane stole it to strip it for parts and sell it for scrap? The probably could've made quite a large chunk of change on it vice letting it get repo'd.



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:47 PM
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a reply to: justwanttofly

Yeah, that and insurance fraud were the two leading theories behind it.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 04:07 AM
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The original owners got tired of not getting paid, stole the plane back and sold it to a cartel, that is my theory



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 05:55 AM
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As another thought, there used to be a guy around here that buried cars for the insurance, all prestige types back in the 60's/70's when opening a car was a doddle. He was never caught, and was actually quite well heeled anyway and just became even more well heeled.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 12:59 PM
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I found some info in The Guardian circa 2003 about the planr Zaph,

"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."

"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."

www.theguardian.com...



posted on May, 21 2016 @ 12:19 AM
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My hope it's true guess:

He's retired in South America after selling his 727 to the Cartel. In this Breaking Bad inspired speculative theory a cartel has a 727 disguised as an econo-jet making routine flights into and out of a small southwest airport unloading tons of methamphetamine, coc aine, and flacca money going back. It's possible.



posted on May, 21 2016 @ 08:29 AM
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That's was an interesting article from the Guardian. You'd think someone else would have spotted the thing, before that other gentleman did. Maybe they did but didn't bring it to the attention of the authorities or a news site. Still, it is a photograph... Can they be 100% sure?

"There's always a shady side to business around here,"



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