Flying Off the Radar – WIF Aviation Mysteries

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Strange

Aviation Mysteries

There have been many unexplained disappearances of aircrafts over the years. There’s no denying that the Bermuda Triangle is a hot spot for planes disappearing, but there are countless other locations around the world where airliners have seemingly vanished into thin air. Other times, aircraft suddenly crash with very little warning. And of those crashes, the wreckage discovered often leaves experts with more questions than answers. From the disappearance of Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle, to MH370 vanishing, to a hijacker that jumped out of a plane only to disappear without a trace, today we detail 10 of the most fascinating aviation mysteries of all-time.

10. Helios Airways Flight 522

In August 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 was on its way from Cyprus to Greece when air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft. After losing contact with the plane, two Greek fighter jets went out searching for it and when it was located, they noticed the two pilots slumped over the controls. The fighter pilots then noticed a steward, who was holding an oxygen bottle, breaking into the locked cockpit and attempted to take control of the plane. Unfortunately, he was too late and the plane ran out of fuel, crashing into the hills near Grammatiko, killing all 121 people onboard.

After an investigation took place, it was announced that the cabin lost pressure which left the crew unconscious, although they had previously tried to pressurize the cabin but failed. While we know what happened to the aircraft, a big question still remains: is it in fact safer to lock the cockpit doors? After the terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, locked cockpits were the normal procedure, but it makes it much more difficult for the flight and cabin crews to communicate. And had the crew of Helios Airways Flight 522 been able to enter the cockpit sooner, the crash may have potentially been avoided.

9. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739

In March 1962, during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army Flying Tiger Flight 739 was carrying 96 soldiers and 11 crewmen from Guam to the Philippines when it vanished over the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Crew members of a Standard Oil tanker reported seeing an explosion in the sky about an hour after the aircraft made its final communication, although no distress signals were made by the pilots.

Numerous aircraft and ships searched over 200,000 square miles for eight days looking for the missing plane, but no wreckage was ever found, sparking several rumors as to what really happened. One of those theories is that the U.S. government accidentally shot down the aircraft and tried to cover it up by saying the crash most likely happened due to engine and communication failure.

8. B-47 Stratojet

In March 1956, a Boeing B-47 Stratojet was flying from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to Ben Guerir Air Base in Morocco when it disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea. After completing its first refueling stop without any problems, it was time to refuel again, so the aircraft began to descend but didn’t make any contact with the tanker.

While an extensive search was conducted, no wreckage was ever found and the crew members were declared dead. The unarmed aircraft had two capsules of nuclear weapons material in carrying cases onboard, so the theory of a nuclear detonation wasn’t a possibility. And interestingly enough, the nuclear weapons were never found, either.

7. TWA Flight 800

In July 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 was flying from New York City to Paris on an overnight trip when it suddenly exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 8 miles off the coast of Long Island, near East Moriches, New York, killing all 230 people onboard. The plane exploded just 12 minutes after takeoff, while it was at an altitude of around 13,700 feet. While the U.S. government said that a combination of fuel and air had ignited in the fuel tank, many others believe that it was hit by a missile.

The center part of the aircraft fell first, followed by the forward fuselage, the wings, and the remaining part of the fuselage. After working for over 10 months in water around 120 feet deep, divers were able to recover the remains of all 230 victims, as well as about 95% of the aircraft. Investigators said that the explosion was due to an electrical short circuit that affected the fuel gauge wiring in the tank. There was, however, explosive residue found inside of the cabin but they explained that by an explosive detection exercise that had taken place on the aircraft.

Since 258 people who were interviewed by the FBI claimed to have seen a streak of light that approached the aircraft just before it crashed, many have speculated that it was instead shot down either by terrorists or by a mistake made by the U.S. military, leaving people with more questions than answers as to what really happened to TWA Flight 800.

6. EgyptAir Flight 990

In October 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990 flew from Los Angeles to New York City, where it made a stop before continuing on to Cairo, Egypt. Less than 25 minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean around 60 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. While the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board claimed that it was the actions of the co-pilot that caused the plane to crash, Egyptian authorities said it was because of mechanical failure.

The plane began to descend very fast (approaching the speed of sound) at a 40 degree steep angle before regaining altitude, then changing directions. It then lost its left engine before descending again and crashing into the ocean. Since a large group of passengers on the plane were military officers from Egypt, some have speculated that the flight had been targeted by the country’s enemies.

According to the cockpit voice recorder, the pilot went to the washroom, leaving the co-pilot alone. At that point, the autopilot was disconnected and the plane began its descent. When the pilot returned to the cockpit, he was heard asking the co-pilot what had happened, with the co-pilot answering “I rely on God.” Was it the co-pilot who caused the crash or was it mechanical failure? We may never know the answer.

5. Pan Am Flight 7

The Clipper Romance of the Skies – also known as Pan Am Flight 7 – was the most luxurious and biggest aircraft of its time. It was in the process of conducting a flight around the world with 36 passengers and eight crew members, departing from San Francisco with its first stop scheduled for Hawaii. That was, however, until it crashed in November 1957.

At 16:04 Pacific Standard Time on November 8, the pilot last reported his position, and that was the last time anyone aboard the plane was heard from. One week later, several of the victims’ bodies were recovered from the ocean. The most interesting fact is that their watches showed a time of 17:25 PST. So, what happened in the 81 minutes between the last communication from the aircraft and when it crashed?

While many theories have circulated on what actually happened, some people believe that a couple of bad men boarded the plane – one of which owed a pretty big debt and the other who was called a “psycho” by people in his hometown – and they may have brought the plane down. Another theory is that the propeller shattered mid-flight because the engines were so powerful. Some of the bodies recovered were wearing life vests, and a large amount of carbon monoxide was detected in several of the bodies. What exactly happened on that flight still remains a mystery.

4. Flight 19

In December 1945, six planes vanished in the Bermuda Triangle and have never been recovered. Five Avenger torpedo bombers (known as “Flight 19”) took off from their base located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for an exercise run. The pilots encountered problems with their compasses and lost communication with the ground crew, although the ground station was still able to hear the pilots talking to one another. The pilots appeared to have been confused as to their location and they all decided to crash-land their planes in the water once their fuel dropped below 10 gallons.

A huge search and rescue mission took place for five days that covered 700,000 square kilometers but no wreckage was ever found. In fact, another plane that had 13 people on board also disappeared and was never found. Apparently, an ocean-liner that was in the area reported seeing a huge fireball in the sky. But to this day, none of the six planes or the passengers have ever been recovered, which adds to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

3. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart set many flying records during her life, including becoming the first woman to fly solo over 14,000 feet in 1922, and then in 1932 when she was the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic. But tragedy stuck in July 1937 when she disappeared while flying around the world. Her twin-engine Lockheed Electra vanished close to the International Date Line in the central area of the Pacific Ocean. The only clues that were left behind by Earhart were a few unclear and garbled up radio transmissions.

There have been several theories as to what happened to her, such as the possibility she abandoned the airplane and died in the water. Other, stranger theories have surfaced, such as the idea she may have been stranded on an uninhabited island for several years all alone, or that she may have been captured and killed by the Japanese government. Some have even suggested that she just wanted to disappear from the public eye so she faked her death and lived in New Jersey under a different name.

Although the wreckage of her plane has never been found and she was declared lost at sea, what really happened to Amelia Earhart still remains one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

2. D.B. Cooper

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all-time doesn’t involve the disappearance or crash of an aircraft, but rather a man who hijacked a plane and seemingly vanished into thin air after jumping out with a large sum of money.

In November 1971, a commercial plane was traveling from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, in a seemingly normal flight. A male passenger who was around his mid-40s and about 6-feet tall, and who said his name was Dan Cooper (or D.B. Cooper), handed a flight attendant a note that said he had a bomb in his briefcase. He then showed her the inside of his briefcase, which contained several wires, red sticks, and a battery. At that point, he asked for four parachutes and $200,000 in cash.

When he received the items in Seattle, he let all of the passengers leave the plane, except for a few crew members. Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Cooper lowered the rear steps and jumped out of the plane (with the money), never to be seen again. While countless searches were conducted to try and find him, it was as if he just completely disappeared. To this day, no one knows who D.B. Cooper actually was, or what became of him.

1. MH370

On March 8, 2014, the world was left shocked when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Extensive search efforts were conducted from the Indian Ocean west of Australia to Central Asia to try and located the 227 passengers and 12 crew members, but no bodies were ever recovered.

With no warning or explanation, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off shortly after communicating with air traffic controllers. The aircraft had then turned toward the west for no apparent reason, as it was completely off track from its initial destination. Since nobody knew for sure where their aircraft may have potentially gone down, several pings from a black box were heard around 1,200 miles northwest of Perth, Australia, but searchers were unable to determine the exact location of the box and it’s never been discovered.

Numerous theories have surfaced on what may have happened to MH370, such as mechanical failure, to hijacking, to even pilot suicide. Since July 2015, several pieces of debris have been recovered, but only a very few were confirmed to have come from MH370. Debris has been recovered from the French island of Réunion, as well as the shores of Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Mauritius.

In July 2018, the Malaysian government issued a report claiming that mechanical malfunction was very unlikely, as the change in the flight path occurred from manual inputs. So, who caused the plane to disappear? Why did they do it? And most importantly, where is it?


Flying Off the Radar –

WIF Aviation Mysteries

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the unlucky deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe.

Speed Trap

“We will race back to see how things are shaking in Chi Town,” Race rhymes with Ace.

Constance rhymes with constant, “Let’s get back in one piece.”Deer Crossing

This time Highway 20 will see them back to home base, but not before acquiring two unwanted speeding tickets and colliding with an amorous White Tail buck; the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe. The Buick Roadmaster is a 4415 pound vehicle so the deer barely leaves a mark, but the traffic violations mean that Ace will be making June trips, back to Jo Daviess and Boone counties.

 

When they do gain the expansive Cook County, a new morning has dawned. The roads and streets leading to the U of C are welcoming and more familiar than those of the past two weeks.Libby Dead or Alive-001

Homecomings, even to temporary homes, give the sojourners great comfort. 6137 Kimbark is just as they had left it, with the noticeable remixing of Willard Libby, who is hidden no more and basking in the positive reviews from Graham crusaders, longtime colleagues and educated citizenry. He has rekindled the national debate surrounding the divergent issues of creation and evolution.

Libbyites-001The man, who spawned the people known as the Libbyites, admits to being a changed man, like a new incarnation of his former self. From inside the Graham Crusades, this scientist has bridged the intellectual gap that has always existed between science and religion, a not small task in the face of prejudicial professional bias.

Without intentionally searching for it, Willard knows what it’s like to be a part of revival.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 183

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 183

Chapter Sixteen

PRECIPITOUS

Libby thoughts-001

…Random ramblings from the principles of Libby Affair…

“Are you saying the landing gear locks were disabled or was there a mechanical failure?” Ace Bannion asks the Civil Aeronautics Board inspector the same question for the second time. They are standing next to the fallen Angel of Blue Ridge.

You were mugged? You have to be crapping me!” Constance has just found out that Worth Moore was beaten on afternoon of the plane crash. She is getting tired of F M’s assault on all things Libby.

“I’m so sorry Worth! I cannot believe that you are a target. That means none of us are safe.” The CCPI 2nd female is genuinely worried about a man for… maybe the first time. She tends to him like a Florence, not a Fanny.

Did you hear about that crash out at Midway Airport? It was Rev Graham’s plane and Ace Bannion was the pilot.” Eddie Dombroski speaks to wife Edie from a place of sympathy. Even as he is on the mend, he still feels like a member of the team.

“I am 90 percent sure that Forever Mastadon is fronted by the Department of Justice. The FBI is up to their neck at 5046 and way in over their heads when it comes to knowing what this whole battle is about.” Agent Daniels is up front with his assessment of the Libby Affair.

“Half of my staff are either bandaged or in splints. Do you want me to carry on with the Chicago Stadium alter call?” Reverend Billy Graham is speaking to his Lord, a habit that he will never lose and an example of living his faith.

“What do I have to do to put an end to these people? The Divine One is set against the Great Deception.” Pentateuch would be talking to L. Dick Cannon directly, had he been up front with the man and told him who he really was. Instead Cannon slithers away to his true delusional followers.

“Maybe we should abandon Project Forever Mastadon. Would it be the end of the world if “they” find out that humankind has only been around for 20 thousand years?” Gilbert Conroy, the science dork, asks the Deputy Attorney General Ross.

“My fellow Americans, I speak to you as a believer, a believer in the grace of Jesus Christ, not as your President,” President Harry Truman is making good on his promise that he would use his weekly radio address to urge his fellow Americans to affirm their faith in God.

”Is a scientific breakthrough worth all the trouble it has caused?” Willard Libby wonders.

Not-so-random orders from the top…

“Gabriel.”

“I am here Lord.”

“It is time.”

“I understand.”

…dot dot dot…


CONSTANCE CARAWAY P.I.

WIF Grammar 101-001

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 181

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 181

…Goldwyn the Junior relates his father’s stories often, “like when he was told that he couldn’t make a movie about lesbians he said…

“That was quite a show Ajax Bannion.” The man does have the flair for the dramatic, as Constance notes. “We caught the whole thing on film.”

He looks at her sideways, inaudibly wondering who the guy with camera is, but passes on bothering to question Connie’s curious ways.

But she cannot help but comment, “A lot of good that CAA inspection did you.”

“I’ll meet you in the terminal, CC,” he will deal with potential plots of ill intent, after he decompresses.

“That would be our out cue, Cassandra,” Goldwyn is not very good at names.

“Let me play director now. One more time with feeling; it’s Constance Caraway, not Cassandra Coriander, although I may use that as an alias someday,” she makes allowances for her hasty initial introduction, not to mention that he cannot be more than 25 years old. “I am with Constance Caraway Investigation and the pilot of that plane is a close friend of mine.”

She hands him one of her business cards.

“Tallahassee Florida, cool beans. Hey thanks for the tip, fantastic footage. It would cost a fortune to stage that for a movie,” ever enterprising, Goldwyn Jr. will put his footage to good use. The Blue Ridge Angel, this must be a private plane?”

“Yes, it is the official plane for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and his worldwide Crusades.”

“Did I hear my name?” asks the aforementioned man himself. “Are you a filmmaker young man, I see your fancy camera there?”

“It is a privilege to meet you Mr. Graham, my father is a huge fan of your work, he even was at your Los Angeles meeting… and he never has been inside a church.”

“Your father is?”

“Samuel Goldwyn.”

“No kidding. I’m a big fan of his work, Metro Goldwyn Mayer I believe. He does say the craziest things.”

“He is known for his malapropisms,” Junior relates Senior’s stories often, “like when he was told that he couldn’t make a movie about lesbians he said,That’s alright, we’ll call them Hungarians’.

Oops. Young Goldwyn has accidently stepped into tabooed doo doo.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 180

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 180

… P.I. Caraway and Hollywood Goldwyn have hijacked a baggage tow and sprinted through the muddy grass to the crippled plane…

After the smoke clears from around the 27,393 pounds of steel and aluminum, loaded with Crusade props and Jesus freaks, pilot Ace and the other everything are still in one piece. His copilot is passed out and the navigator is face down on the cockpit deck, so he climbs over debris to check on his human cargo.  He finds the good Reverend is already checking on everyone, as is the registered nurse who is in the crusades’ employ.

Happy

The newest member of the revival staff, Willard Libby gives Billy a wave, unable to shake the thought that he brought the trouble with him, like the other improbable events over the past 4 months.

And other than a few loose wits and several severed nerves, the truly injured have but minor issues, none life-threatening.

“Normally I consider applause as inappropriate, but this ain’t Sunday and we ain’t in church!” He raises his hands to God in praise and directs the passengers in very appropriate hand-to-hand (raucous) appreciation.

The ever modest Ace takes a bow while opening the boarding door. There are airport bowpersonnel down on the ground, but they have no way of off-loading the people, seeing they are nosed out into a city street. They need to wait for the ambulances and shuttle buses to make their way, down 63rd Street, then up Central to nearly 55th.

One face, in the concerned throng below, is a familiar one; Constance Caraway is there with arms weighed down by blankets for those in need, but her spirits lifted high by answered prayer. She and Samuel Goldwyn the junior have hijacked a baggage tow and sprinted through the muddy grass to the crippled plane. The neophyte film producer has captured the entire calamity on film and now sets up his equipment for the aftermath.

She is among the first up the stair/ramp when it is placed roughly against the tilted fuselage, protocol be damned, “Excuse me, can I get through with these blankets?”

“You heard the lady,” Captain Bannion is coordinating the unloading of Crusade people, each according to their ambulatory status. At second blush, there are more serious injuries than previously reported, most likely because, to a man and woman, were plain grateful to have survived at all; never mind that sore shoulder or stiff leg.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 179

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 179

…”Okay, Miss Coriander, I’m ready to roll.” Right girl, wrong spice…

“I think something big is about to happen,” the ever alert private eye warns the documentary maker.

More awake and suddenly motivated he moves to his equipment bag to retrieve his last 35mm blank, slapping in a fresh two thousand feet into the front reel chamber.

“Let’s get outside for a better angle,” she notices that he has airport credentials that give him freedom of movement. “I’m with him,” she tells a security guard who is guarding access to the tarmac. “Here comes an arrival, there hasn’t been one in 30 minutes and it should be the busiest part of the day.”

“Okay, Miss Coriander, I’m ready to roll.” Right woman, wrong spice.

The entire passenger cabin has assumed the head-in-lap position, no use looking out the windows now. “Brace yourselves for a rough landing…” Ace has briefed them on what the airport expects of them upon touchdown, panic is not an option. He reminds them that it his skill that will determine the outcome and nothing else. What he doesn’t tell them is that because of the sharp descent angle they will be doing the equivalent of a swimming pool belly flop.

He throttles the new turbine engines back to the minimum required RPMs to stay airborne as he clears the perimeter fence and goes full flaps after that. After the two front wheels are weighed down by the descending fuselage, they curl up like a petunia at sunset and the only thing between the bottom of the plane and the cold concrete is five foot layer of air, which disappears after the skilled flyer shuts down the engines, makes a sharp right turn and takes the aircraft into the wet grassy soil and ultimately to the end of available real estate.

Chain_Link_Fence

The only thing left between the screeching plane and Central Avenue is a chain link fence, which stretches out to its max, but stops forward progress when the wings finally contact the reinforced barrier. Ace gives a friendly wave at the stopped line of cars that was headed east on Central… those going west go around the scene like The Blue Ridge Angel is a fallen tree. Places to go you know.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 177

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 177

…So you wanna be an airline pilot, eh?” Ace chides the young man in the chair to his right…

“The wheels aren’t locking, Captain Bannion!”

“That is not good.” A dozen scenarios are running through Ace’s head, but none of them good. “How much fuel do we have in the tanks, kiddo?”

“About two thousand liters,” he reports a partial load of 100 octane blend.

“Good thing we didn’t fill‘er-up at KC,” he calmly moves on to plan B. “The gear is going to collapse shortly after we touch down, so we are going have to set this plane down on its belly. Go back and tell Mr. Graham to come forward.”

When Billy ducks under the cockpit bulkhead, Ace gives the plane’s owner the bad news, “The landing gear will not lock Billy. We have tried 5 times, but the hydraulic system is messed up. I think I can put her down without too much damage, but you have to be the one to break the news to our people; you have that way of making prayer a part of everything we do, well, no better time than now.”

While Billy preaches to the choir in back, Ace talks to the tower at Midway Airport, “This is Graham flight number 2 zero-niner requesting a clear runway, we don’t have gear.” Simply put.

“This is the tower 2 zero-niner, we want you to put down on Runway 13C, and do a two pass fly-around to give us time to get ready. How many folks do you have onboard?”

“Thirty-one passengers and five crew.” That question was asked so that they can have enough emergency personnel at the scene.

So you wanna be an airline pilot, eh?” Ace chides the young man in the chair to his right.

The airplane intern straps himself into his seat after checking with the navigator, who is almost as young and not feeling too confident about the heading he has figured.

“I’m taking us into a 20 knot northeast breeze, which should slow us down some… damn, I mean darn, there are enough ambulances down there to light up the whole airport.” The captain swallows hard. His final order is supposed to be funny, “Turn on the windshield wipers.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

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Forever Mastadon


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