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LOOK: TOP 10 Planes That Mysteriously Vanished Without A Trace

The 2003 disappearance of a Boeing 727

Photo of a 727-223 (the same model stolen in the 2003 incident). Taken by Wikipedia user RuthAS and used via CC.

The 2003 disappearance of a Boeing 727

In this case the aircraft was relatively large, but the passenger list was miniscule. Just two men, Ben Charles Padilla and John Mikel Mutantu, are thought to have been aboard. This, on a plane that normally requires three people to safely fly it.

Padilla and Mutantu were supposed to be repairing and refurbishing the 727. Instead, they stole it. Neither they, nor the plane, have been seen since. And, to this day, nobody knows what the motive or the plan really was. For a while, there was concern that the 727 might have been swiped by a terrorist organization, to become a flying bomb, writes Tim Wright at Air & Space Magazine, but that idea seems to have fizzled. Instead, Wright’s investigation turned up evidence supporting the theory that the plane was “stolen” as part of an insurance scam. Though what happened after the theft is anybody’s guess.

Mike Gabriel believes the airplane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean soon after takeoff. One crew member from the fuel delivery operation thinks the Angolan air force shot it down with a missile. A Luandan pilot says the word there is that the aircraft went north and vanished near Kinshasa, Congo. One of Ben Padilla’s friends says the airplane was disassembled for parts in Bujumbura, Burundi, on Tanzania’s western border. Picking through the fragments of 844AA’s history, I found a story of broken deals, disappointments, and betrayals, but no real clues to the aircraft’s destination that day in 2003. | source

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Written by Joshua Jackson

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