20 November 2005

Even spies contract out

A Canadian Press story in the Sunday Telegram reports that two aircraft with alleged links to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have passed through St. John's on their way to Iceland and points beyond.

The aircraft, registration numbers N-168D and N-196D, are owned by North Carolina-based Devon Holding and Leasing. The two CN-235, like the ones illustrated here are Spanish-built turboprop light transports. Devon's livery is illustrated here, in this photograph taken at Kabul, Afghanistan earlier this year of another Devon CN-235, registration number N-187D.

The links between Devon and CIA are reported widely on the Internet and were recently reported by The New York Times. Sweden is investigation claims that other aircraft, such as N-168BF owned by Wells Fargo Bank and N-50BH, a Gulfstream III currently registered to Crystal Jet Aviation, have used Swedish airports. Given the flight paths for these aircraft, it is likely they landed at St. John's, Gander, Stephenville or Goose Bay on their way to and from other airports in North America.

A google search reveals this link for N-50BH, but reports the operator as Richmor Aviation of Schnectady, New York. Richmor's website no longer lists 50BH as being part of its fleet; this story from late last week quotes Richmor representatives as saying the aircraft was operated on a private charter.

While the aircraft and registration numbers above are correct, sometimes Internet sites get the wrong. This one, for example reports N-168D as being a Boeing 737 - it isn't.

Likewise, it shows a Boeing 737 with N-313P registration. Unfortunately N-313P is registered as a single engined aircraft.

A complete list of registration numbers being investigated by an Icelandic newspaper can be found here.

They are:

N1016M, Cessna 208;
N1018H, Cessna TR 182;
N120JM, Fairchild 227;
N1210Z, Cessna 441;
N157A, Beech 200C;
N162EM, showing as an unused number in Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) records;
N168BF, Raytheon Hawker 800 XP;
N169KT, Boeing 727-269;
N173S, Beech 300;
N1HC, Gulfstream GV-SP
N204FN, showing as unassigned by FAA;
N212AZ, ATR-42;
N212CP, Cessna 208;
N2138T, currently reserved, and previously assigned to a currently deregistered CH-47;
N2189M, Lockheed 382 (Hercules);
N219D, CN-235;
N221SG, Learjet 35A;
N229AL, showing as not assigned;
N229WJ, Learjet 25D;
N312ME, Beech 200C;
N315CR, ATR-42;
N33NJ, Learjet 35A;
N35NK, Learjet 35A;
N368CE, Boeing 737;
N381AA, Douglas DC-7;
N393DF, unassigned;
N4009L, Beech 300C;
N403VP, Cessna 208;
N4042J, Beech 200;
N418MN, Learjet 45;
N42HN, Learjet 35A;
N4456A, Beech 200C;
N4489A, Beech 200C;
N4557C, Lockheed 382 (Hercules);
N470JF, ATR-42;
N475LC, Gulfstream IV;
N478GS, Gulfstream IV;
N505LL, DeHavilland DHC-8 300 series;
N5117H, unassigned;
N5139A, Beech 200.

For those who follow these things CIA's use of civilian contractors is nothing new. Air America operated for decades in southeast Asia, being replaced more recently by companies like Southern Air Transport.

One of SAT's Hercs even made into a shot in the movie, The Presidio. Check out the flightline in one scene as Mark Harmon and Sean Connery are investigating the murders. smack in the middle of a bunch of military Hercs is one with the unmistakable SAT livery.