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Subject In 2003, a 727 that once flew for American Airlines disappeared from Angola. (Courtesy Mike Gabriel) * History of Flight The 727 that Vanished
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In 2003, a 727 that once flew for American Airlines disappeared from Angola.
(Courtesy Mike Gabriel)

* History of Flight

The 727 that Vanished
A case pursued by the FBI, the CIA, the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security, CENTCOM, and the sister of Ben Padilla.

* By Tim Wright
* Air & Space Magazine, September 01, 2010

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Before it disappeared, the 727, N844AA, delivered fuel to diamond mines, where there were only clay landing strips.
The 727 that Vanished

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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 t....

wow...this was under the radar for me....i never heard of this story until today....
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