Back in July, Venezuelan General Hugo “Pollo” Carvajal arrived in Aruba by plane to take up his new position as a diplomat on the Caribbean island nation. Instead of going to a plush office to stamp visas, he was sent to jail for potential extradition to the USA on a freshly unsealed indictment for drug charges. Over the next few days, Venezuela reportedly did whatever it could to get Carvajal back, including raising the threat of military action. Carvajal was eventually freed, made persona non grata in Aruba, and sent home.
As I wrote at the time, one of the oddest parts of the whole affair was the widespread rumor that the plane that ferried Carvajal to Aruba had tail number N9GY. That plane is registered to a Delaware company called Global Air Services Corp. According to a record filed with the Texas secretary of state, Global Air Services Corp. is ultimately part of the far-flung corporate empire of Venezuela-American oilfield supply impresario Roberto Rincón.
César Batiz wrote a long, fascinating profile of Rincón over the weekend in Armando.Info, a relatively new Venezuelan investigative reporting outfit. I helped with the story, mostly gathering information on Rincón’s Texas companies and planes. There is one very curious piece of this that you, dear reader, may be able to help explain.
Plane owners can keep their real-time flight records off of websites like FlightAware.com by filing a confidentiality request with the US Federal Aviation Administration. However, flight records are still public documents. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA to get flight records for N9GY. Here’s what we got for the dates in question:
As you can see, the records show the plane arriving at Orlando July 18 and not leaving again until August 5. But we have people around the Caribbean claiming to have seen that plane during that period. And then, on August 6, the plane got to Merritt Island, without ever registering a flight to get there.
So what happened? Can someone in the aviation world help explain this to me?