US Coast guard joins search for missing plane

Apparently we can even help now from the comfort of our home-office chairs by inspecting satellite photos... if somebody is missing, let's get in there and find them!!
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US Coast guard joins search for missing plane

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Dec 19, 2008 ... 06700.html

US Coast guard joins search for missing plane
The US Coast Guard said it received a call from the US Federal Aviation Administration that the craft had disappeared four miles west of West Caicos Island.

MIAMI, Florida, December 17, 2008 - The United States Coast Guard yesterday joined the search for about a dozen people who went down with a plane near the Turks and Caicos Islands two days ago.

The 11 were en route to New York on Monday when the twin-engine plane disappeared, 35 minutes after taking off from the Dominican Republic on Monday afternoon.

The Coast Guard said it received a call from the US Federal Aviation Administration that the craft had disappeared four miles west of West Caicos Island.

The aircraft was reportedly supposed to refuel in Turks and Caicos. (Caribworldnews)

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Lawyer: 'Bermuda Triangle' Trislander Stolen by Human Traffi

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Dec 19, 2008,2933,470144,00.html ... geId=3.1.1

Lawyer: 'Bermuda Triangle' Plane Stolen by Human Trafficker
Friday, December 19, 2008
By Rita Cant

A Britten-Norman Trislander, the kind of small aircraft that disappeared off the Dominican Republic Monday with 12 on board.

The small Caribbean plane that vanished into thin air Monday with 11 passengers was taken by an ex-Navy cadet who was previously investigated for drug and human trafficking into the United States, according to a representative for the airline.

Luis Irizarry, a lawyer investigating the disappearance for the plane's carrier Puerto Rico Airline, said Dominican drug and immigration authorities already knew the name Adrian Jimenez when they reported the theft of the aircraft.

"They called me saying, 'We know the guy,'" Irizarry told"A couple of years ago, when they revoked his pilot's certificate, that’s the time they say he was involved in drug smuggling and alien smugglings."

Irizarry did not know whether Jimenez was charged and phone calls to aviation officials were not immediately returned.

Jimenez was training in the Dominican Republic Armed Forces as a Navy cadet before he was discharged for unlicensed flying.

His student pilot license was revoked in October 2006 because he was operating multi-engine aircraft when he was only authorized to fly helicopters. Irizarry said he was told Jimenez was also accused of misdemeanors including cheating and theft.

Irizarry said his client had the three-engine Britten-Norman Trislander flown to Santiago, D.R., for a standard test-flight by a potential buyer on Monday.

But when the Puerto Rico Airline pilot met Jimenez to test the plane, a representative from "Atlantic Airlines" started loading 11 passengers onto a Turks and Caicos-bound flight. The pilot told Jimenez he wasn’t allowed to fly the plane. Jimenez responded that Atlantic Airlines purchased the plane that morning, Irizarry said.

The plane took off about 3:30 p.m., emitted a mayday call 35 minutes into the flight and disappeared from radar off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

A report released by Dominican authorities said one of the people on board told friends her husband was waiting for her in New York, according to Irizarry.

Relatives of passengers told the Coast Guard the flight's final destination was New York, Petty Officer Barry Bena said. But the FAA had no record that that was true.

Among those missing is Rosa Tavarez, 27, authorities said.

Tavarez worked as a maid in rural Dominican Republic and wanted to find a higher-paying job elsewhere in the Caribbean, acquaintance Maria Torres told reporters.

Passengers reportedly paid an $8,000 deposit on the flight and the rest of the total—$13,000—would be paid on arrival in the U.S. Irizarry said Atlantic Airlines could not be reached by phone Wednesday and he suspected the company did not exist.

Luis Perez, the owner of the Carolina, P.R.-based Puerto Rico Airline, was asking $225,000 for the airplane. He has listed it as stolen and “written off.”

The U.S. Coast Guard called off its search Wednesday after no sign of the aircraft was found.

The plane disappeared in the fabled Bermuda Triangle — in which, according to pop culture legend, planes and sea-faring vessels mysteriously vanish without a trace.

A flight plan indicated that the plane took off from the Dominican Republic and was to land in the Bahamas. The Bahamas Aviation Authority said the plane never arrived.

Airport authorities also had no record of the aircraft landing in Providenciales, according to Turks and Caicos police Sgt. Calvin Chase.

Civil aviation authorities there are under fire for allowing an apparently unlicensed pilot to operate a charter flight using a stolen aircraft. The Puerto Rico Airline pilot and another pilot who helped load the passengers onto the flight have been taken into custody.

It is not known if the mayday was an authentic distress call or a ruse to distract immigration officials.

"There is no airplane wreckage found, and no fuel — maybe they disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle," Irizarry said.

The FAA would not comment on the allegations that the missing plane was trying to smuggle humans into the United States. FAA spokesman Kathleen Bergen said there’s no way of knowing if the aircraft could possibly turn up in U.S. airspace.

“That would be strictly speculation. It’s really in the hands of other agencies,” she told FOX.

The Coast Guard also declined to comment on the immigrant smuggling theory.

“Our primary concern is the safety of the people regardless of the status of the plane,” said the Coast Guard's Bena.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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