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Story of a Stolen Boeing (wikipedia.org)
65 points by vikaskyadav on March 1, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments

Wait, this is somehow a mystery? Two people who had no experience flying 727s fueled up a plane, somehow got it airborne, and flew out over the Atlantic Ocean never to be seen again. Oh, and 727s require three people to properly fly them.

There's no mystery here. They crashed in the Atlantic Ocean.

> Oh, and 727s require three people to properly fly them.

3 people to safety fly them. I doubt the plane shuts off if three life-signs aren't detected.

> There's no mystery here. They crashed in the Atlantic Ocean.

From the article

>> Unlike other plane disappearances, no debris has been found in the ocean from the aircraft

I'm not saying your suggestion isn't valid or potential what happened but it's appears to be far from certain.

They only found 20 pieces of MH370, and that was with genuinely massive media attention and the most expensive search in aviation history.

A plane in Angola with two criminals aboard? No located debris isn't indicative of much.

Pieces are going to be found on the ocean floor in some decades in a random sonar survey of the bottom for a new pipeline, I guarantee it.

Commercial applications like this are the only reason to do large area bottom surveys.

The state of 727's five years before this event:

Planes equipped with newer Category Three navigational equipment can land on autopilot, even in the worst weather. Pilots never even have to touch the controls.


This is not going to happen at a small airport and without the collaboration of ATC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwbTq_4-jGg CAT3 landing need a lot of things aligned properly to work.

For a safe, commercial autoland you would need CAT3, but if you're willing to take risks you could get by with less. And you would need a friendly ATC anyway or you wouldn't stay hidden for long. But the fact that the plane is capable of landing by itself means that it could be somewhere other than the bottom of the ocean.

I'm not a pilot.

But with the fact that "somehow" they got airborne, I give them the benefit of doubt re: landing.

Getting airborne is pretty easy. Landing is far harder. That said if the pilot has any experience in similar sized aircraft and has the checklist for landing it should be doable so long as the weather isn't terrible and nothing out of the ordinary happens. If you're just trying to land on some particular miles long section desert then that makes things a lot easier. Trying to drop out of the sky onto a short runway in a valley that's just barely longer than your minimum stopping distance is not likely to end well for a pilot who is not very at home flying that particular type of aircraft.

IMO this aircraft is probably at the bottom of the Atlantic somewhere.

News reports and Wikipedia article mention that Ben C. Padilla was an American pilot and flight engineer and had a private pilot's license.

That he held a private pilot's license doesn't tell us much. You can get a private pilot's license without ever flying anything bigger than a single-engine Cessna. A multi-engined jet aircraft like a 727 is a completely different beast.

Generally speaking someone who's qualified to lead an operation to "restore an aircraft to airworthy condition" is also technically qualified to fly it even if they don't have the proper credentials.

My flight simulator experience taught me that landing a big airplane is extremely more difficult than taking off, specially if unassisted by airport instrumentation.

While landing is harder, it is easily done with just a bit of practice in a flight simulator if the weather is fair when you are landing the real thing.

Landing is nowhere nearly as difficult as people make it out to be.

I do not have a pilots certificate, but I've flown real planes a lot in training situations. Granted, that was in a small single engine aircraft, and I've easily spent 100x as much time in simulators.

Thanks to flight simulators, I was able to fly the Cessna used in training alone all the way from engine start to engine stop, including taxiing, takeoff, cruise, 2-minute, 1-minute, and 30-second turns, landing hold pattern, and landing again on my very first time behind the controls. The instructor did not believe that flight simulation games could teach so much until I made that flight.

Instructors are not supposed to let newbie pilots do this, and he was ready at at the controls the entire time.

Anyway, landing is nowhere nearly as hard as people think.

But the question wasn't whether you can successfully land a small, single-engine land plane in VFR conditions after training for hundreds of hours on a simulator (though I am surprised and impressed that you were able to do this).

It was whether a successful takeoff is indicative of a good chance of a successful landing. Speaking strictly about small single-engine Cessnas--in which I have a (lapsed) private pilot's certificate--I'd say it isn't. Landing is, as the parent poster said, harder than takeoff.

I don't think any of this is relevant to the larger discussion, though. First, the pilot did have some certification, though it's unclear from the article in what. Second, neither my experience nor, it sounds, yours, gives me any insight at all into how hard it is to land a modern airliner. ;)

Sure, but we have no reports of a big airplane crashing near a runway that day, either, or evidence that it did. They either landed successfully out of sight and hid the plane, or crashed in some way that no debris was ever found.

Trying to land and failing spectacularly may be the most likely outcome, but it's also the only one we can conclusively rule out.

Landing any plane is more difficult than taking off.

Taking off is mainly a function of airspeed only. Landing is a delicate balance of: airspeed, rate-of-descent and the associated engine power, attitude of the aircraft, and 'eye'.

Maybe. But it’s still a mystery as to why they stole it, where were they going to take it and what was going to become of it.

"in the process of being converted for use by IRS Airlines"

This is a Nigerian airline, but the name makes me think of this classic Simpsons bit:


These stories are interesting because with all our technology it's nice to see a mystery can still exist.

yup. That MH370 case is also one of them.

Clickbait editorialized title, the real page is "2003 Angola 727 disappearance".

With $4 million in unpaid airport fees, one could fantasize it was stolen for insurance fraud.

Has the whiff of a typical black ops CIA operation...

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