We’ve all heard of people stealing bikes and cars, but have you ever heard of someone taking an aeroplane, particularly a medium-range aircraft? The incident occurred in Angola in 2003.
It’s difficult to understand how they stole it, and the case has yet to yield a single hint about the missing Boeing 737 aeroplane. Let’s take a closer look at it.
The plane was taken from the airport. Two men are thought to have boarded the plane on May 25, 2003, shortly before dusk (about 17:00 local time). Ben C. Padilla, an American pilot and flight engineer, was one of them. The other, John M. Mutantu, was a Congolese mechanic hired on the job.
Both men lacked the necessary certification to fly a Boeing 727, necessitating the inclusion of a third crew member. Padilla is suspected of being at the controls, according to US investigators. Only one person was on board the plane at the time, according to an airport employee, although two males had boarded the plane before the incident, according to other airport officials.
The plane started taxiing without informing the control tower. It made erratic manoeuvres and landed on a runway without permission. The tower officers attempted to call them but received no answer.
The plane took off without lights and flew southwest over the Atlantic Ocean before disappearing. The aircraft was packed with 53,000 litres (14,000 US gal) of gasoline before the incident, giving it a range of around 2,400 kilometres (1,500 km; 1,300 nmi). Since then, neither the plane nor the two men have been seen, and no debris from the plane has been discovered on land or at sea.
The plane in question was a Boeing 727-223, which was built in 1975 and served American Airlines for 25 years. Aerospace Sales & Leasing, a Miami-based corporation, was said to be its previous owner. The plane had been stalled for 14 months at Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, accumulating more than $4 million in unpaid airport fees.
Later, the aviation authorities ordered an investigation, but this aircraft was nowhere to be discovered.
A Boeing 727, registration N844AA, was stolen on May 25, 2003, at Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, prompting a worldwide hunt by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since then, no sign of the plane has been discovered.