Detained GV Crew Still Stuck in Congo

 - March 1, 2011, 9:30 AM

More details are emerging about the Gulfstream V seizure in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on February 4. After taking on cargo, the flight crew of the chartered jet was preparing to depart from Goma when an armored personnel carrier stopped next to them. With machine guns pointed at the Gulfstream, a “colonel” jumped off the truck and told the flight crew and passengers, “Get out of the plane.” When the pilot-in-command hesitated, the colonel added, “Get out of the plane now or you’re not going to like the consequences.” Thus began the detention of the flight crew and passengers on N886DT, a GV registered to Southlake Aviation and managed by charter operator Arcadia Aviation, according to a source who has been in contact with the flight crew and is working to help them return home. He asked that AIN not identify him or the crewmembers to protect their safety. According to news reports, the GV was leased to a subsidiary of Camac International, an energy company headed by Kase Lawal, who last September was appointed to the U.S. Advisory Committee for Trade and Policy Negotiation. Lawal was one of the passengers on the GV. News reports suggest that cash carried on the GV was exchanged for a cargo of gold, but the source said that reports of gun battles, car and airplane chases, counterfeit money and beatings are not true. The crew–three pilots and a flight attendant–are being detained at a Goma hotel. The U.S. State Department’s Overseas Citizens Service confirmed that a consular officer visited the crew last week and yesterday “to check on their well being. We make sure everything’s OK,” a spokeswoman told AIN. “We’re pushing and asking the [DRC] government what is the status of the case and when they might be expected to leave.” The anonymous source said, “My goal is to get [the crew] out of the situation. [Yesterday] is day number 25. All I care about is getting [them] out of there.”