Despite all of the complaints about TSA agents checking passengers in the U.S., most airports are very tight about security. That doesn’t seem to be the case at one airport in Spain … or maybe that’s just another piece of the mystery surrounding a so-called ‘ghost’ plane that just appeared there almost a decade ago and has never been picked up or flown since.
El Pais reports that the McDonnell Douglas MD-87, a mid-sized medium-range jetliner, is parked at Adolfo Suárez Barajas airport in Madrid. This is no puddle-hopper, crop-duster airport – it’s the main international airport serving Madrid, the busiest airport in Spain and the largest airport in Europe by physical size. Even with it being big and busy, you’d think that someone would have noticed how it got there. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for this one. Elena Mayoral, the current director of Madrid-Barajas airport, was forced last week to post a notice in the Official State Gazette (BOE) that the aircraft with license plate EC KRV is in an “obvious state of abandonment” and, if it doesn’t get picked up, it will be auctioned off.
This is obviously not your typical ‘ghost’ plane. It’s a legitimate term used to describe planes where the crew has been incapacitated due to loss of oxygen or other circumstances (pro golfer Payne Stewart died in such a plane in 1999) or the secret planes allegedly used by governments for extraordinary rendition to transport prisoners to other countries for torture or other illegal activities. In the paranormal world, ghost planes often refer to old military planes reported flying over World War II battlegrounds or planes that have landed with no crew on board.
EC KRV may not be one of those types of ghost planes, but it’s still a mystery. Flight Global reports that Flight Fleets Analyzer lists the aircraft as MSN49843 and shows it was manufactured in 1990 and initially purchased by Iberia Airlines, which is based at Madrid-Barajas Airport. It was sold in 2008 to Pronair, a short-lived charter airline, and then in 2009 to Saicus Air, a cargo carrier which ceased operations in 2010, apparently abandoning the MD-87 and its only other plane – a Boeing 737-300F. Perhaps the real mystery – or at least the first dot in this connect-the-dots puzzle – is what airport official ignored the abandoned plane in the first place. Is it common practice to leave multi-million-dollar aircraft sitting around for years at the sixth-busiest airport in Europe? Were they afraid to open it? Should they be afraid now?
So, this ghost plane has sat there for nine years … and could sit there for at least one more. Spanish law dictates that Elena Mayoral must continue to issue notices every three months for up to a year before putting the plane up for auction. A similar MD-87 in working condition is on the market for $4.8 million. This one’s motors, pilot-static system, Pitot tubes and other openings have been sealed off and it hasn’t been flown in 9 year, but it could still sell for a couple million.
Who would buy a ghost plane? Someone looking to beat the jinx of the Bermuda Triangle – fighting ghosts with ghosts? Or is there something more sinister to this mystery? We may have to wait a year to find out.