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Jackson's Plane Arrives at Airport

Aired November 20, 2003 - 14:47   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to take you back live out to the Santa Barbara County Airport now. You are seeing the arrival of a Gulfstream now at the airport.
We had been reporting earlier that we were told through our sources, various sources within the airports via Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, that Michael Jackson and -- now, it's saying here Michael Jackson's plane lands at Santa Barbara Airport. Are we confirming this? Is this indeed Michael Jackson's airplane?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I've just been told...

PHILLIPS: What have you been told?

O'BRIEN: I've been told this: that the tail number on this one, which I'm still having some difficulty making out, but some of our people have. And if you could let me know in my ear what it is, I'd appreciate it. But it matches the tail number of the Gulfstream which left Nevada presumably with Michael Jackson on board.

Now, where that plane has been in the interim, anybody's guess. Once again, if the art of deception is what you're after, perhaps there was an interim stop at which point Michael Jackson could have exited and moved on it his ultimate destination another way.

Nevertheless, this tail number does in fact match an aircraft, Gulfstream, same aircraft, which left Las Vegas earlier today. Charles Feldman, do you see the Gulfstream where you are?

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Miles, hi. We saw the Gulfstream, and we are told that it is matching, the tail number is matching the number that we have been told is the Gulfstream that is carrying Michael Jackson.

It's pulling up now right in front of me. I'm standing outside, again, Signature Aviation here in Santa Barbara Airport. The Gulfstream -- and excuse my shouting on the air. I'm trying to get some information.

Joe, is that a Gulfstream GII? That is it? GII. OK, Miles, it's a Gulfstream GII -- oh, no. GIV.

O'BRIEN: It's probably a IV. It's got the tip winglets there, Charles.

FELDMAN: Yes, I just wanted to confirm for aviation aficionados what kind of aircraft it is. But the tail number, which I can now see, is the tail number that our sources have said is the Gulfstream carrying Michael Jackson.

Now, there is -- you can see that Signature van again, that's the van that we were watching before, that's waiting to take whoever gets off that plane. I can see that there's a lot more activity on the field than there was before. So this is either Michael Jackson or it's one hell of a false alarm.

O'BRIEN: OK. Now, let's try to put two and two together here for just a moment. You're much more familiar with the distances there. A flight time between Las Vegas and Santa Barbara in a Gulfstream without a stop would be about what? And does that jive with the departure we saw in Las Vegas?

FELDMAN: Oh, yes. It would be about an hour if there's no what they call flow problems at LAX. All the air traffic at the Santa Barbara airport would be dependent to some degree upon whether or not there's heavy traffic going into Los Angeles International. But barring that, it's about an hour flight.

Now, the plane I'm looking at, it's now -- it's pulling up by a hangar in a fenced-off area where there seems to be a lot of people gathered. I can't tell from my distance if these are people in the press or if they're Michael Jackson fans. But it appears to be pulling either inside a hangar or alongside -- can you tell...

O'BRIEN: Yes, Charles Feldman, it is pulling inside the hangar, thus thwarting the efforts of the media that is hovering overhead through the courtesy of KABC. And I think that would give us a very strong indication that Michael Jackson would be on board that aircraft given the fact that it is pulling straight into a hangar as we see here right now. The doors' are going to shut snuggly around the fuselage, I predict. The engines will be shut off, and the occupants will exit the aircraft shielded from our view.

FELDMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there's a little bit of hope here, Miles, because that Signature van that we saw before, that gray Signature van, is in position. It's pulling up. I'm watching it drive around in the direction of the aircraft. It's possible that if this is the plane that's carrying Michael Jackson that he intends to get on the van and perhaps be brought to this facility.

O'BRIEN: Well, we should point out, a typical Gulfstream arrival at Signature, most people walk out in the bright sunshine, walk across the ramp, and go in and get refreshments and take a break. It's not normal for it to nose in like this.

FELDMAN: That is absolutely correct. As I mentioned before, at this airport what would normally happen is they'd pull up roughly to where I'm standing now on the phone and the occupants would get out and...


PHILLIPS: Yes, the door's now opening... (CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: ... almost sketchy picture, silhouette type shot of the door opening. Almost apparitions going down the steps right now. So we're not going to really get a clear view of all of this.

So if we wanted to set our watches, though, once again, as you're pointing out, traffic of course an issue always in Southern California, but 20 to 25 minutes, assuming in a relatively immediate departure, and assuming a direct route to the sheriff's department, correct?

FELDMAN: Yes, that's about right. And I don't know -- again, you're in a better position, I think, with an aerial view if that's what you're looking at. Can you see, Miles, are there any vehicles that look like official police vehicles that could give him an escort?

O'BRIEN: Well, we did see California Highway Patrol members in a parking lot earlier. The shot we have right now is a very tight close-up of that door that has opened, the steps. And we see what appears to be one of the crew members walking around.

Haven't really been able to make out anybody else walking out. The effort here to shield this egress from the aircraft from cameras fairly successful, I think. But we're going to have to just sit here and watch it.

How far away are you from this hangar?

FELDMAN: Well, I'm about, oh I don't know, maybe a half a mile. I mean, I can see the tail of the plane clearly. I can see the people lined up on the fence on the other side. But what I can see that you probably can't is that van that is sitting off to the side...

PHILLIPS: Charles, here's a question for you. You know this airport pretty well. This hangar, obviously, whoever is inside of this aircraft can get out inside the hangar.

But can, let's say this is Michael Jackson and his staff, can they go through this hangar and go out another way and completely avoid the cameras? I mean, where do they have to actually get into a vehicle? Does it have to be at the back of this aircraft, or can they go through another door, go out a front door?

FELDMAN: No, they could -- if this was arranged carefully -- and I suspect that it might have been -- there could have been a vehicle already waiting inside the hangar. And that -- you know, they could easily -- I'm going to actually, while I'm on the phone with you, don't mind me talking to somebody here.

Do you know, can they drive -- can someone drive from that hangar out of the airport over there? Do you know? There are gates all over. So they could drive there. Do you know if that's Michael Jackson's plane? You don't know. OK.

I'm talking to one of the people who works here at Signature. Sorry for that. But what he gave me an answer to is the answer to your question. There are other gates. So yes, they could get off the aircraft -- I see a police car there now, an airport police car, by the way.

They could get off, get into a vehicle there, and get out a number of different ways. They're not the conventional ways that people would leave this airport, but where there's a will there's a way.

PHILLIPS: So basically, those doors -- we're seeing a number of vehicles now pulling up behind the aircraft. You probably can see the police cruiser, also another SUV pulling up there. Just wondering if indeed he gets inside a car inside that hangar if he's got to come back out those same doors.

Now we're getting a little bit more of a bird's-eye view here, Charles. A number -- looks like a number of police cruisers coordinating and talking, sort of surrounding the hangar area.

FELDMAN: I mean, I would think that -- I mean, I've been here all morning, and I've had a chance to listen to see if there are any other dignitaries expected here at the airport, and I can tell you that there are none.

So you know, I don't want to speculate, but I would think that what we're seeing in terms of the police activity and what's going on with movement around the airport, but it would be a strong indication that Mr. Jackson's on board that aircraft.

But I'm going to leave it to you guys to let me know if you see him emerge from the plane because you're watching a view that I can't see from where I'm standing.

O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, I half expect to see a white Bronco drive into view here given what we've been covering this morning.


PHILLIPS: And hopefully, it won't drive fast. We'll have flashbacks of O.J. Simpson.

O'BRIEN: That's at least an Explorer, anyhow. But nevertheless, it is reminiscent of a scene we all witnessed several years ago now.

PHILLIPS: If indeed too, if the sheriff's department comes -- I mean, we still don't know if sheriff's deputies are going to make their way to the airport. It's very possible.

O'BRIEN: Well, I don't know whether that's airport police. Charles was indicating it probably was airport police.

FELDMAN: Yes, Miles, that's an airport police vehicle.

PHILLIPS: Would they offer -- would they take -- I mean, is it possible, Charles, that airport police could have a deal with the sheriff's department and they actually escort Michael Jackson to the sheriff's department?

FELDMAN: Well, in life all things I guess are possible, right? You know, technically, the airport police should be confined to the airport. Could they have struck a deal with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department? Sure. I suppose that's possible.


PHILLIPS: I'm seeing on the side of the hangar there the same individuals that got out of that LearJet that landed just before this Gulfstream. It's possible that could have been security detail, bodyguards landing first, securing the area figuring out what exactly Michael Jackson and the rest of the folks on that Gulfstream were going to do. There's obviously a lot of coordination going on here.

FELDMAN: Yes. I don't know, again, what you could see, Kyra, but the LearJet that we saw come in before is actually parked right in front of me now on the other side of the hangar. It's sort of right around the corner on the outside from the Gulfstream, which is tucked inside, or at least partly inside the hangar.

Can you tell, has the door opened on the Gulfstream?

O'BRIEN: Yes, it has. Some crew members have disembarked, but we haven't been able to make out anybody else. There's not an ideal lighting situation there. There's a very grainy picture, to say the least.

FELDMAN: Now, I'm going to try something, Miles. I just realized I can keep walking and nobody is stopping me. Wait, maybe someone is stopping me. I'm trying to walk toward the aircraft because there's no fence.

But my cameraman is signaling me to come back. So I think I'd probably better not proceed any further.

O'BRIEN: Well, you go as far as you feel comfortable, Charles.


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