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Pilot of Missing Jet Disappeared Too

Pierre Thomas writes in abcnews.com that Benjamin Padilla, who piloted the Boeing 727 that vanished after taking off in Africa, has disappeared as well. "I am concerned that he might have been hijacked," says Padilla's brother, Joseph. The plane took off from Luanda Airport in Angola without permission and without filing a flight plan, so no one knows where it was headed. It had been refitted to haul diesel fuel tanks, meaning it could be used as a flying bomb in a 911-style scenario."We don't have any reliable assessments about what this portends, what it could be, who may be behind it," says White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

The last time Padilla was heard from was on May 14, when his sister Benita received an e-mail saying he was on his way to Africa. Benjamin Padilla is a U.S. citizen living in Florida. His family believes he flew to Angola to work for Aerospace Sales and Leasing, based in Florida, that bought the 727 from American Airlines two years ago. The plane had not been moved for more than a year, and Padilla may have been going to see if it was fit to fly.

The missing plane could have crashed in the ocean. Padilla's brother says, "If the plane has gone into the water, satellites can't make it out." Intelligence officials believe the plane was stolen to run drugs or guns, or as part of an insurance scam. But his sister Benita says, "Personally, I do not believe he has done anything criminal or terrorist-related."

Just a few hours changed our lives. Will we ever know what really happened?

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