One evening, on May 25, 2003 a Boeing 727 moves on the runway in an airport in Luanda, Angola, while this is what normally happens in an airport however there is something wrong with this in this particular instance. The air traffic controllers try to communicate with pilot but there is no response. The plane starts moving erratically on the runway and takes off never to seen be again.
The aircraft in question was originally owned by a businessman John Mikel who had bought it from American Airlines and sold it to TAAG Airlines who were to supply fuel to a mining firm in Angola. The plane arrived in Angola carrying fuel but the mining firm cancelled the deal. At the time there was an ongoing conflict in the country this made matters difficult for the crew that had brought the plane so they turned and left for home leaving the plane and the businessman and owner of TAAG Airlines in Angola. The crew having left only compounded problems for the businessman who had not finished paying for the aircraft.
The businessman managed to hire a new Angolan crew, find some work but he too eventually went home after facing difficulties of his own thus abandoning the plane in the airport for some time. The original owner who had sold the plane and who up to that point had not been fully paid sent a crew to fix the plane and make it flight worthy again.
Gone without a trace.
The crew sent to to reposes the plane included a man named Ben Padilla an engineer. When they arrived in Luanda the plane had accrued significant parking charges and fines from Angolan aviation authorities. Ben Padilla and his crew managed to repair the plane and were scheduled to fly it South Africa. However as the sun set on May 25th, the plane was powered on and without notifying air control tower began taxiing, took off and headed towards the Atlantic. Ben Padilla, a second man seen entering the plane have not been seen since either, he is still a wanted man in America.
This incident attracted a lot attention since it happened less than two years after hijacked planes crashed into World Trade Centre in New York, so the US was understandably concern and spent a lot of resources trying to locate the plane. It is reported that the FBI, CIA, Homeland security and State Department all investigated the disappearance to no avail. According to the BBC American diplomats were also tasked to visit airports in search of the plane, the search extended as far as Sri Lanka. The case was baffling since a Boeing 727 is quite a large plane to disappear without being ever sighted and the two men were not qualified to fly a 727 which requires a crew of 3 trained personnel.
The disappearance has over time generated different conflicting theories with some alleging it was sold to drug cartels to traffic drugs however this is disputed since it would have been spotted somewhere. Another theory is that it crashed into the ocean however there are those who question if so why was there no wreckage recovered. There are also conflicting reports of a third man who apparently held the others at gun point and forced them to fly.
What are your thoughts?
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