Did You Know?
In 2003, a Boeing 727-223 was stolen from an airport in Angola. It still has not been found despite a worldwide search.
On 25 May 2003, a Boeing 727-223, registered N844AA, was stolen at Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, Luanda, Angola. Its disappearance prompted a worldwide search by the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). No trace of the aircraft has since been found.
It is believed that shortly before sunset (likely to be 5PM local time) on May 25, 2003, two men boarded the aircraft. One of them was an American pilot and flight engineer, Ben C. Padilla. The other, John M. Mutantu, was a hired mechanic from the Republic of the Congo. Neither man was certified to fly a Boeing 727, which normally requires three aircrew. Both men had been working with Angolan mechanics to get the aircraft flight-ready. Padilla is believed by U.S. authorities to have been at the controls. An airport employee reported only seeing one person on board the aircraft at the time; Other airport officials stated that two men had boarded the aircraft before the incident.
The aircraft began taxiing without communicating with the control tower. It maneuvered erratically and entered a runway without clearance. The tower officers tried to make contact, but there was no response. With no lights the aircraft took off, heading southwest over the Atlantic Ocean before disappearing. Before the incident the aircraft was filled with 53,000 litres (14,000 US gal) of fuel, giving it a range of about 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi; 1,300 nmi).Neither the aircraft nor the two men have been found. Unlike other plane disappearances, no debris has been found in the ocean from the aircraft.