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CNN Today

Chartered California Flight Lands With Passenger Missing

Aired December 15, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities are attempting to unravel an aviation mystery in California. They're trying to figure out what happened to a woman who disappeared from a flight chartered by Hewlett-Packard. The plane took off with five people and two pilots onboard from Sacramento, California. When the plane landed near San Jose, a female passenger was gone.

CNN's Rusty Dornin joins us from Sacramento.

Rusty, what's going on?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, I think the only thing everyone can agree on about this story is that it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Apparently, as you said, five employees of Hewlett-Packard took off with two crew members in a DeHavilland Twin Otter aircraft yesterday from Sacramento Airport. Now, after they took off, apparently a light came on for the emergency door. The plane then landed here at the airport where we are, which is the Executive Airport, which is about 10 miles south of Sacramento.

Apparently, the door was fixed. They got back in flight to Sacramento when the light came on again about three minutes into that flight and at about 2,000 feet. The plane apparently then just proceeded to San Jose. But the story gets stranger when -- apparently it landed at 6:05 p.m. and it wasn't until 45 minutes later that the San Jose police received a 911 call from someone saying that the plane had landed with one less person that it had departed from Sacramento with -- a woman. Now this woman, so far, is unidentified.

Now, there are conflicting reports as to whether the women disappeared from the aircraft and no one noticed or that she -- people saw her jump out, or that she was pushed out of the aircraft. Now as implausible as it may sound that someone might disappear from an aircraft, we have someone here to talk a little bit about that.

John Gudebski of Patterson Aircraft is a pilot -- you have piloted the DeHavilland Twin Otter.

JOHN GUDEBSKI, PILOT: I have flown the airplane, yes.

DORNIN: Is it possible for someone to get up in that aircraft and get out the back door without other people noticing? GUDEBSKI: Impossible.

DORNIN: Why is that?

GUDEBSKI: Just the sound differential -- when the door becomes loose the sound is extraordinary. If it ever were to open in flight it would be a horrific noise.

DORNIN: And you were saying, too, it's because of where the door is located in relation to the exhaust system. Can you describe that?

GUDEBSKI: The door in the Twin Otter sits right behind the wing, and the wing is above it, and it's right behind the jet exhaust on the turbo prop engine. So the noise from the propellers, the noise from the jet engine and the noise from the airstream just makes it impossible for one not to notice that a door has been opened in flight.

DORNIN: OK, thank you very much...

GUDEBSKI: You're welcome.

DORNIN: ... John Gudebski.

The story just keeps getting stranger. The Sacramento police, apparently, weren't called until 10:00 last night. There was no search launched until this morning; and a helicopter just arrived from the Sacramento police department. Apparently the FBI is going to join them and they're going to launch an aerial search. There are no ground searches going on so far here.

But very few clues in what has become a very mysterious disappearance from the aircraft -- Lou.

WATERS: Rusty, it sounds like a movie of the week.

I've just been making some notes here -- it doesn't sound like you'll have any answers to this -- but this 911 call, do we know where that came from?

DORNIN: They don't know where it came from. We just confirmed that with the San Jose police department. Now, apparently they are not launching any kind of search from there. It is only on this end that they are launching the search.

But all we know is that a man did call up 45 minutes after he claims the plane had landed. He claimed, I think, to have been one of the passengers and said that one person was missing, a woman.

WATERS: And now the folks who were on the plane, are they being questioned by police now?

DORNIN: Apparently they're being questioned by the police and by the FBI, but we have gotten no indication of what they're saying other than these conflicting reports that we're getting about, you know, what happened -- whether she was pushed or jumped or that nobody noticed.

WATERS: So, do you know for certain that this missing woman actually did get on the plane?

DORNIN: That's what is unclear as well. Whether she -- you know -- whether she disappeared from the time that they were in Sacramento and flew to this airport or whether no one noticed her missing until she got to San Jose. That has not been clarified by authorities yet. They're not very forthcoming with information now because they think -- there are a lot of conflicting reports going on.

WATERS: Well, you've got an interesting one to work on here. Rusty Dornin out there in Sacramento, we'll be checking back with you, of course.

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