Two men who stole Boeing 727 with no licence still haven’t been found to this day
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Over twenty years since two men without a flying licence disappeared aboard a Boeing 727-200, authorities are still stumped about what happened to it.
The other was an Angolan helper he had recently hired, John Mikel Mutantu.
According to information from the Aviation Safety Network, the Boeing 727-200 (registration N844AA) was owned by Aerospace Sales & Leasing.
The plane had accumulated 68,488 hours in the sky and 43,390 cycles over 26.5 years - mostly at American Airlines which is why it was painted silver with a red, white, and blue cheatline.
The aircraft was old but well looked after with its engines still considered to be in working order.
However, due to unpaid airport fees and contractual disputes the Boeing been grounded for over year.
An unnamed pilot told Air & Space Magazine: "For me, it was an opportunity to make a couple of bucks, and when everything started falling apart, I probably hung on twice as long as common sense dictated."
The two men presumed to be aboard were working with Angolan mechanics to ready the aircraft to return to the skies - but neither was certified to sit behind the controls and head skywards.
Reports at the time claim the aircraft began taxiing erratically without clearance or communication with the tower.
Then, without activating its lights or transponder, it took off in a southwesterly directly over the North Atlantic Ocean.
The plane was presumed stolen or being used for insurance fraud and neither the a post-9/11 FBI or CIA could find it.
Mastin Robeson, a retired US Marine General and the commander of US forces in the Horn of Africa during the period, told Air & Space Magazine: "It was never clear whether it was stolen for insurance purposes by the owners, whether it was stolen with the intent to make it available to unsavory characters, or whether it was a deliberate, concerted terrorist attempt. There was speculation of all three.
The exact ownership of the craft at the time of its disappearance is murky.
It's claimed that Aerospace Sales & Leasing were reportedly in the process of selling the plane to either a Nigerian carrier, called IRS Airlines or it was the one plane registered to a short-lived Angolan cargo fleet, Irwin Air.
While the alarm was sounded the morning after it flew away, it wasn't initially assumed that the plane had crashed as there were a lot of long unpaved runways in Sub-Saharan Africa that could accommodate a Boeing 727.
But as the days, weeks, months, years, and decades passed with zero sightings, the plane's disappearance became more and more unusual.
Pilots, US Government officials and other stakeholders believe the plane crashed in the ocean, killing both men onboard but thus far, there has been no evidence to prove this.