That thread is archived so I can’t reply. I found it after googling the flight number after my father told me a story one day driving in the car.
I joined this forum just to post this message. I wanted to have my father’s story placed onto the internet for the sake of hopefully the truth coming out about what happened to PP-VLU.
To recap the summary of this flight:
“PP-VLU was the registration of a Varig cargo Boeing 707-323C which took off on 30 January 1979 from Tokyo - Narita to Rio de Janeiro-Galeão via Los Angeles. After an exhibition in Tokyo, 153 of Manabu Mabe's paintings were on board the aircraft. The aircraft went missing over the Pacific Ocean some 30 minutes (200 km ENE) from Tokyo. Causes are unknown since the wreck was never found. The paintings were lost.”
My father’s story is credible in my opinion because of the circumstances of his position in 1979. My father worked for Varig cargo in Los Angeles for decades, from 1971 to the late nineties, PP-VLU was a cargo plane scheduled to fly through Los Angeles on route to Rio De Janeiro during the time he worked there.
My father’s story goes as follows.
Prior to the incident my father recalls reading a story in the papers that a Russian MIG pilot landed in Japan to defect.
Stanislav Levchenko KGB Russia 1979 Defected during a mission in Tokyo, Japan ; detailed KGB's Japanese spy network
As a side note my father said, the Russians standard operating procedure would be to give their pilots only enough fuel to do their run, and not enough to land in Japan.
When this pilot defected after landing in Tokyo, the Russians flipped out because the MiG was a latest model. They didn’t care about the pilot, but wanted the MiG back. Russia put pressure on Japan to give it back, but the US wanted it.
The US put the MiG into a hanger and disassembled it and decided to use a 3rd party foreign cargo carrier, rather than a Japanese cargo carrier or US military aircraft because they didn’t want to risk having the Russians to shoot down a Japanese plane (US Ally) or US military plane and start a greater incident.
Standard operating procedure when a plane leaves Toyko it has to check in at regular intervals. The reason it does that the maintenance, cargo and dispatcher groups have to know when to be ready to deal with the plane when it lands. When the dispatcher didn’t call cargo, that was the first sign something was wrong. They won’t report a plane as missing until they estimate it has run out of fuel.
When a plane has mechanical issues prior to crashing there are signs that alert the pilots and the pilots can radio in to alert the tower that something is wrong. There were no reports, the plane just disappeared.
No wreckage was ever found and he believes it was designed that way so that the risk of someone finding out the MiG was onboard was eliminated.
My father’s was told by Varig management if customers call about their cargo going missing to not say anything about the status of the plane.
Years later, when my father was in Brazil for training he asked a manager about what happened to RG967 and he was told it was shot down, but that information was confidential.
The other source was a manager in Los Angeles, this manager got in trouble with the company and my father was a friend with him. He also confirmed it was shot down.
He also stated that he found out that at the Narita airport in Tokyo, the Varig cargo manager went nutz and was institutionalized and the assistant manager committed suicide.
My father is not one for tall tales, so take it for what it’s worth. The reason I am posting this is for the families of the crew that died. I don’t know if it’s’ true, but if it is, hopefully the truth will come out someday and help them.
Reffado From Brazil, joined Feb 2012, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 4 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7467 times:
Nice story. Interesting, to say the least. I won't enter the discussion as to it being true or not, because I really don't know enough about the incident to offer a valid opinion. However, from a political point of view, it does make sense. Ensure that if aggression is used, the end result won't create an international crisis. For what it's worth, I think it plausible.
Russia could not get the escaped pilot but his MiG 25 plane finally was returned to the country. However, before this the newest Soviet interceptor fighter plane was brought to the US Air Force military base located 80 kilometers from Tokyo. At the base the plane was carefully examined which helped Americans learn many military secrets. The plane was dismantled and brought to a Soviet boat in the located nearby port of Hitachi at night of October 12. MiG returned by Japan was brought to Latvia, city Daugavpils where a Soviet Air Force Academy was. The students used the plane for training. In the end of 80s the plane's period of operation expired, and it was brought to a special dump place. Local children and students took pieces of the plane as souvenirs.
TC957 From UK - England, joined May 2012, 852 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 4 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 6840 times:
Cool story, many thanks for sharing. The only thing I can comment on is if the cargo was indeed containing the MiG parts, then the flight could maybe have routed differently, like south via Guam and Midway, Hawaii etc. That would have taken it away from Russian airspace compared to going ENE of Tokyo. Or it could have flown to Guam and transferred onto a US military plane there.
AwysBSB From Brazil, joined Sep 2005, 561 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 6315 times:
Quoting jcaz (Thread starter):
I was hoping to post a reply on this subject to the following post:
Varig PP-VLU (B707 Cargo) Still Missing Since 1979 (by VarigB707 Sep 8 2006 in Civil Aviation)?threadid=2978549&searchid=2981407&s=PP-VLU#ID2981407
That thread is archived so I can’t reply.
I also intend to reply that post, since it makes no sense to me any suspicion about Capt. Gilberto doing plot with KGB.
My maternal parents were neighbours of him in Goiania during the 60's and I always heard stories about him from my grandfather (a friend of him) and from my mother (a close friend of one of his daughters).
What they ever told me about Capt. Gilberto was that he loved very much his family and was a non-possessive person, so it is just improbable that he would take risk of his life neither at behest of the US nor at of the USSR during the cold war.
If PP-VLU was attacked when leaving NRT, that could not be of Capt. Gilberto's fault and I hope that be considered in any inference about that crash.
jetjack74 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 7408 posts, RR: 50
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 6266 times:
I'm sorry, but I really am skeptical of these cloak and dagger mumbo jumbo scenarios about covert ops involving a Soviet MIG. Im not calling your dad a liar, but I think the most logical explanation is the simplest one. I think the 707 probably developed some kind of inflight fire or a bomb exploded or something catastrophic happened either by pilot error or the aircrafts own volition. It's only because it happened over an ocean, at night(presumably), and that no trace has been found. Nothing is as cut and dry as if this plane crashed over land. But we're talking about a vast ocean, one of the deepest regions of the Pacific, in the winter where the oceans leave very few clues. 30 minutes of flight may not seem like alot, buts probably close to 300-350 miles at that point.
And furthermore, I'd be hard-pressed to believe that the US Govt would've gone to such extraordinary lengths to conceal and bring a Soviet fighter to the US, to Los Angeles, on a Brazilian airliner. It would've most likely been examined at a base in Japan. And once we were done with it, it would be dismantled, boxed up and sent back to the Soviet Union in an in usable state, as a post in the archived thread suggested. Unlike countries like North Korea or Iran, where if they got their hands on a US plane, they would never return it, it would be on display in Pyongyang or Teheran as a prize.
Could something like this have happened, it's possible. But I think in the grand scheme of things, very unlikely.
VC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2888 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (1 year 4 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5889 times:
I have always been fascinated by the loss of this VARIG flight. I know how unforgiving the ocean can be, especially the Pacific (I even thought about VARIG when I watched "Life of Pi"). Nothing, absolutely nothing, was found floating? Styrofoam? Oil slicks?
However, I find your dad's story as plausable as any since there isn't even a good guess from any authority.
And today, with so much old classified material available, perhaps digging into it under the "freedom of info act???"
Very sad all around.
The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!