There's been a small upburst of unrelated mystery-jet stories in the last couple of days. For a start, there's the strange case of an Antonov 28, a little light twin with 10 or 12 seats, that turned up in the DR Congo apparently with something called "Butembo Airlines" and fell out with the UN. It ended up being impounded in Kigali for not filing a flight plan and being registered twice: once in Kyrgyzstan and once in the DRC. I can find absolutely no information under EX-28811, the Kyrgyz registration, and only one photo under 9Q-CES, the Congolese one (the photo was taken in Dubai on the 11th of March). But Butembo did have an EX-28810 in 2003, and it was an Antonov 28. I cannot find any more info about that one either, although I have got a serial number for it. The Rwandans demanded of Uganda how they had permitted the plane to pass through Entebbe airport, and the Ugandans denied all knowledge of EX-28811, but admitted clearing 9Q-CES, as if they were two different aircraft. Alex Yearsley of Global Witness asked me whether the plane belongs to VB - I have to say I'm not sure with the information I have, but the profile is convincing. Several suspect operators own An28s, notably Tepaviatrans in Moldova and Goliaf in Sao Tome.
Whatever, it's certainly deeply suspicious. Back in January I ran a post about strange goings-on in Uganda, where an Antonov 12 crashed at the old Entebbe airport, run by the army. This led to the revelation that secret flights to the DRC were leaving the old airport, cleared through army channels with the aid of bribery. I wonder whether this particular flight passed through Old Entebbe rather than Entebbe International?
Moving swiftly on, an Antonov 12 operating for something called "RPS" in Dubai was wrecked in a runway excursion at Riyan Mukalla airport in the Yemen. Report here. I wonder why a fireman would ask for anonymity when saying that the aircraft had been heavily damaged? Now, I covered the fact that well-known Viktor Bout line Irbis Air Co. was sending off three flights a night from Sharjah to Riyan some time ago, here. Whether this aircraft is connected or not is not yet clear as I don't have more details. Suffice it to say that there is no known airline called RPS (there is a division of FedEx in the US, but this seems irrelevant). Royal Airlines, a Pakistani firm that charters out known Boutco British Gulf International's fleet of An12s, has the ICAO code RPK, though. BGIA's aircraft chartered to Royal often turn up in Dubai although they live down the road in Sharjah. The aircraft was supposedly loaded with 17 tons of "fish" - whatever kind of fish they were, it seems they burned well. The accident seems to have started as a rejected take-off (RTO), but the plane ran 400 metres off the runway (a 10,000 foot runway - which ought to have been enough room to stop an An12) and caught fire. This photo taken recently in the capital Sanaa shows an Ilyushin 18 with Renan Air titles - a well known gun running outfit registered in Moldova.
From the same paper, we learn who might want a load of exploding fish in Yemen. Thanks to Soj for the hint.