Difference between revisions of "Korean Airlines Flight 007"

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====Deception of the crash site====
====Deception regarding the crash site====
Contrary to Russian insistance that they had no knowledge of where KAL 007 had come down, and had maintained lack of knowledge all through the Search and Rescue operations lasting more than two months, they knew exactly where KAL 007 was coming down, and where it had come down, which was over, and then near, Moneron Island. Here is what the Soviet high command saw and said as they saw KAL 007 spiraling down over Moneron Island in Soviet territoria; waters:
Contrary to Russian insistance that they had no knowledge of where KAL 007 had come down, and had maintained lack of knowledge all through the Search and Rescue operations lasting more than two months, they knew exactly where KAL 007 was coming down, and where it had come down, which was over, and then near, Moneron Island. Here is what the Soviet high command saw and said as they saw KAL 007 spiraling down over Moneron Island in Soviet territoria; waters:
<li>18:33 GMT -  KAL 007 is seen by Soviet radar at 5,000 meters at intial stage of spiral descent over Moneron Island. Lt.  Col. Gerasimenko. "Altitude of target is 5,000." General Kornukov:  "5,000 already?" Gerasimenko (18:34):  "Affirmative, turning left, right, apparently it is descending." (ICAO '93, Information Paper No. 1, pg. 156)
<li>18:33 GMT -  KAL 007 is seen by Soviet radar at 5,000 meters at intial stage of spiral descent over Moneron Island. Lt.  Col. Gerasimenko. "Altitude of target is 5,000." General Kornukov:  "5,000 already?" Gerasimenko (18:34):  "Affirmative, turning left, right, apparently it is descending." (ICAO '93, Information Paper No. 1, pg. 156)

Revision as of 17:24, 5 March 2008

Korean Airlines Flight 007, on the ground in Hong Kong, possibly just days before its final flight on September 1, 1983.

Korean Airlines Flight 007 was a scheduled passenger flight from New York City to Seoul, South Korea between August 31-September 1, 1983 when it was attacked and shot down by fighter aircraft of the Soviet Union after straying into Soviet airspace near the Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Island. The deaths of 269 passengers and crew combined with massive Soviet deception as to the location of the crash site provoked international outrage, and may have been a catalyst leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union itself as a political entity.

The Flight

KAL 007, a commercial Boeing 747-230B jumbo jet (registration number HL7442) departed John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on August 31, 1983, stopped at Anchorage, Alaska for refueling at 3:00 AM local time, then departed on the final leg to Seoul-Kimpo International Airport in South Korea. On board, there were 269 occupants comprised of 3 flight crew, 20 cabin attendants, 6 dead-headers (repositioning KAL employees), and 240 passengers (including air marshals). Nationalites (in descending order) were 76 Koreans, 61 Americans, 28 Taiwanese, 23 Japanese, 16 Philippinos, and a lesser number for remaining nationalities. There were 22 children on board under the age of 12 years. For passenger (and crew) seating, photos, and stories for some, written by family and loved ones see [1]

KAL 007's flight plan was to take it southwest from Anchorage to Japan, staying over sea with the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands far to the west, then cross Japan's mainland to South Korea. Based on radar information it was determined that KAL 007 had in fact strayed off-course too far west, placing it directly over Soviet territory more than once. It was about 10 minutes after take-off, that the jumbo jet began its deviation to the west. 20 minutes after, civilian radar at Kenai, Alaska tracked KAL 007 5.6 nautical miles deviated. 50 minutes after, military radar at King Salmon, Alaska tracked it at 12.6 NM deviated. One by one, KAL 007 plunged through its navigational checkpoints ever increasing its deviation - 60 NM at waypoint NABIE, 100 NM at waypoint NUKKS, and 160 NM at waypoint NEEVA, until 3 1/2 hours after take-off, it entered Russian territory north of the port city of Petropavlovsk on Kamchatka. Home to the Far East Fleet Inter-Continental Ballistic Nuclear Submarine Base, Petropavlovsk was bristling with weaponry.

Planned (dashed line) and actual (solid line) route of Korean Airlines Flight 007, September 1, 1983

Soviet air defense forces had tracked the aircraft when it first entered airspace over the Kamchatka Peninsula, attempting first to use radio; fighters were scrambled and fired several bursts in front of the plane's nose. Due to the lack of tracer rounds in the Soviet fighter's ammunition, the pilot of KAL 007 was unaware of the bursts. The fighters were ordered back to base when KAL 007 left Soviet airspace over the Sea of Okhotst.

When KAL 007 re-entered Soviet airspace, this time over Sakhalin Island, fighters were again scrambled with orders to "destroy the target." The Commander of the Soviet Far East District Air Defense Forces, General Valeri Kamensky [2], was adament that KAL 007 was to be destroyed even over Neutral waters but only after positive identification showed it not to be a passenger plane. His subordinate, General Anatoli Kornukov, commander of Sokol Air base, was adament that there was no need to make positive identification as "the intruder" had already flown over Kamchatka.

General Kornukov (to Military District Headquarters-Gen. Kamenski): (5:47)
"...simply destroy [it] even if it is over neutral waters? Are the orders to destroy it over neutral waters? Oh, well."
We must find out, maybe it is some civilian craft or God knows who."
"What civilian? [It] has flown over Kamchatka! It [came] from the ocean without identification. I am giving the order to attack if it crosses the State border."

Here are the orders to destroy KAL 007 and the stalk of KAL 007 by Maj. Gennady Ospiovich in his Su-15 TM interceptor [3]. At 18:26 GMT two air-to-air missiles from an SU-15 Flagon piloted by Major Gennadi Osipovich were fired at the jumbo jet (Here is the combined U.S. electronic intercept and Soviet military communications of the actual shootdown [4]), causing it to spiral down from 35,000 feet and after a 12 minute flight crash into the sea near Moneron Island.

Here is one of the ICAO graphs of the deciphered Digital Flight Data Recorder of KAL 007's first minute and 44 seconds of post attack flight. Following the "altitude" and "pitch" lines, Captain Chun's regaining control is evident through the immediate 113 second arc upward and dive downward, the 10 second pull-up taking KAL 007 to pre missile attack altitude, and the beginning gradual descent [5]

Here are the transcripts of the Soviet Search and Rescue orders [6] There were no survivors found as well as no bodies, body parts or tissues found on the surface of the sea.

Missile damage to people and plane

What can be learned of the damage and lack of damage to KAL 007 is derived from its deciphered Black Box (Cockpit Voice Recorder and Digital Flight Data Recorder) tapes for the duration of the first minute and 44 seconds of its post detonation flight of at least 12 minutes, and from the Soviet real time communiques and radar trackings for the remainder of its flight .

In a two-second interval, the Soviet pilot launched two R-98 (ANAB) air-to-air medium range missiles. The second missile, a heat seeker, was designed to “home in” onto the exhaust of aircraft engines, exploding on contact. As the International Civil Aviation Organization analysis will show, this missile missed.

"The interceptor pilot [Osipovich] stated that the first missile hit near the tail, while the second missile took off half the left wing of the aircraft." (ICAO '93 report, pg. 39,

"The interceptor's pilot's statement that the second missile took of half of the left wing was probably incorrect. The missiles were fired with a two-second interval and would have detonated at an equal interval. The first detonated at 18:26:02 hours. The last radio transmissions from KE007 to Tokyo Radio were between 18:26:57 and 18:27:15 hours using HF1 [High Frequency]. The HF 1 radio aerial of the aircraft was positioned in the left wing tip suggesting that the left wing tip was intact at this time. Also, the aircraft's manoeuvres after the attack did not indicate externsive damage to the left wing." (ICAO '93 report, pg. 39, In addition, the co-pilot reported to Capt. Chun twice during the flight after the heat seeker missile's detonation, "Engines normal, sir."

The first missile was radar-controlled and proximity-fused, designed to detonate 50 meters from an aircraft. It exploded at exactly 18:26:02—exactly five hours, 26 minutes and 18 seconds after KAL 007 began its taxi to takeoff from Anchorage, Alaska. Sending fragments forward, this missile either severed or unraveled the crossover cable from the left inboard elevator to the right elevator. This with damage to one of the four Hydraulic systems (3 of the 4 systems were damaged or out), caused KAL 007 to ascend from 35,000 ft. to 38,250 ft. at which point Capt. Chun, disengaging the auto-pilot and taking manual control, was able to bring it down. For the one minute and 44 seconds Digital Flight Data Recorder charting of KAL 007's post-attack ascent from 35,000ft. to 38,250ft, quick descent again to 35,000ft., after a 10 second pull-up of the aircrafts nose, and beginning gradual descent, see [7].

The fragments also caused punctures to the pressurized passenger cabin. All the punctures together amounted to a total of 1 3/4 sq. feet, too small, even together, for anyone to be sucked out by decompression. This was determined by the 11 seconds it took for the air to begin rushing out of the cabin before the alarm was set off picked up by the Cockpit Voice Recorder.

Congressman Larry McDonald, seated in an aisle seat of the first class section was most likely unharmed though there may well have been wounded or dead in the rear section struck by missile fragments. There was a sufficient supply of oxygen for comfortable breathing. Aviation Specialist Dr. Malcolm Brenner explains: “Crew members and passengers would have about one minute of expected useful consciousness unless they successfully began receiving oxygen from an oxygen mask.” Well within that critical “one minute of expected useful consciousness,” the oxygen masks had already deployed and, because of the upward pitch of the aircraft’s nose for most of its ascent leg of the 1 minute and 13 second arc upward, the masks were drifting back toward or behind the heads of the passengers, within easy reach (If airline regulations had been followed, adults would have donned their masks first before putting them on their children).

At 6:26:34, thirty-two seconds after missile detonation, the following consecutive messages were broadcast over the public address system in English, Korean, and Japanese: “Attention, Emergency Descent. Put out your cigarette. This is an Emergency Descent. Put the mask on your nose and mouth and adjust the headbands.” When one of the flight crew radioed Tokyo Airport, one minute and two seconds after missile detonation, his voice was already muffled as he was then speaking through the mike located in his oxygen mask, "Korean Air 007 ah… We are… Rapid compressions. Descend to 10,000.”

Capabilities and Damage to Hydraulics

With only one of the four redundancy designed hydraulic systems fully operational (making control difficult, but by no means impossible), and with wing flaps up, “control was reduced to the right inboard aileron and the innermost of the spoiler section on each side.”G. Norris and M. Wagner in Boeing (MBT Publishing, Osceolo, WI 1998) explain (pg. 128) the safety benefits of multiple redundant hydraulic systems for the Boeing 747, "The hydraulics provided actuation for all the primary flight controls; all secondary flight controls (except leading edge flaps); and landing gear retraction, extension, gear steering, and wheel braking. Systems 1 and 4 could be used for all purposes [KAL 007's hydraulic system no. 4 was undamaged], while systems 2 and 3 were normally used for flight control only... System 4 also had a third electrical power source. Each primary flight control axis received power from all four hydraulic systems."

Flight Capability Evaluation

The measure of KAL 007 potential and actual controllability are the following 9 indications :

1. Sufficient oxygen for pilot alertness (flight crew speaking through microphones within oxygen masks).
2. All engines were operating normally (as reported twice by co-pilot to Capt. Chun after missile detonation).
3. Electrical system was operative (otherwise the radio and engines would not have operated).
4. Demonstrated pilot ability to decrease speed of KAL 007 in its downward phase (If he would not have been able to do so, the aircraft would continue to increase its downward acceleration—only to collide with the water in from 2 to 2 1/2 minutes rather than maintain its over 12 minute post-detonation flight.
5. KAL 007 was able to regain its pre-hit altitude almost exactly. (It is highly unlikely that KAL 007 regained exact altitude after its arc by chance.)
6. KAL 007 was able to regain its pre-missile hit rate of forward acceleration.
7. Captain Chun was able to bring KAL 007’s nose (pitch) to the plane’s exact level of flight.
8. For over 4 minutes (18:31 - 18:35), KAL 007 maintained level flight altitude of 5,000 meters only to begin a spiral descent over tiny Moneron Island, 3 1/2 miles E-W by 4 1/2 miles N-S - the only land mass in the whole Tatar straits.
9. Material evidence that passengers had enough time to prepare for emergency water ditching [8]

American response

Initially the news flashed in the early morning hours of September 1 would report that KAL 007 had disappeared over the Pacific; it would be a matter of hours that the world would know something more ominous. President Reagan, vacationing at his California ranch, would cut it short and fly to Washington. Just before boarding Air Force One, Reagan hinted that the actions by the Soviets were somewhat worse than their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979: "While events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have left few illusions about the willingness of the Soviet Union to advance its interests through violence and intimidation, all of us had hoped that certain irreducible standards of civilized behavior nonetheless obtained," he declared. "But this event shocks the sensibilities of people everywhere...What can we think of a regime that so broadly trumpets its vision of peace and global disarmament and yet so callously and quickly commits a terrorist act to sacrifice the lives of innocent human beings?" [9]

Secretary of State George Shultz would have a meeting in Madrid, Spain later in the week with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko on the subject of arms control. For the previous few months the Reagan administration felt that things were opening up between the United States and the Soviet Union; the shooting of KAL 007 set things back. Instead of talking arms control, Shultz made heated demands of Gromyko as to what happened to the plane. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and at the behest of Reagan, placed a large television in the Security Council and played the recorded tapes of the fighter pilots and ground control for the world to hear:

"I see it, visually and on radar . . . The A.N.O. [air navigational lights] are burning. The [strobe] light is flashing . . . What are instructions? . . . I'm dropping back. Now I will try a rocket . . . I am closing on the target . . . I have executed the launch. The target is destroyed."

The Soviet delegation had their backs turned towards the screen even as they repeated the Tass statement on the loss of the plane.

Reagan would spend much of two days drafting a carefully-prepared speech which he presented on national television September 5. Calling it a "crime against humanity" that had "absolutely no justification, either legal or moral," he used the speech as an indictment of the Soviets in the court of public opinion, using the word "massacre" six times to describe it. Reagan asserted in a key passage "This attack was not just against ourselves or the Republic of Korea. This was the Soviet Union against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere." [10]

Searches for the remains of the plane, believed lost in the waters to the southwest of Sakhalin Island, proved fruitless; U.S., Korean, and Japanese search vessels were harassed continually by Soviet vessels [11].

Soviet actions

The Security Council Meeting at the United Nations as covered by Time; the photo shows a stunned council listening to the recorded tapes of the Soviet fighter pilots.
RC-135 surveillance aircraft

The Soviets were tight-lipped about the affair for two days. Their only response was through the Tass news agency, in which it was stated that the plane was on a spying mission and was shot down after crossing over their territory.

Then from the Kremlin came the order: the Soviets officially declared that KAL 007 was on a spy mission, and as a spy plane it was deliberately shot down. All of the talk of innocent passengers lost was dismissed as "hulla-balloo", and they said that they were prepared to do it again.

Thinking that they may have made a bad public-relations impression, on September 9 Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, the Soviet Chief of Staff, went on television to give the Kremlin's view of what happened, repeating the spy plane story, but insisting the plane had been warned to land first. Tracing the plane's route with a pointer on a map behind him, he explained that ground controllers had mixed KAL 007 with a U.S. reconnaissance plane, and the order to shoot it down came not from the Kremlin, but from a far east commander in a military decision, raising a question as to whether or not the Soviet civilian leadership had actual control over its military, and leaving the world to wonder if this "hair trigger mentality" could result in a major conflagration. [12] Needless to say, Ogarkov's television appearance did little to absolve the Soviets of responsibility.

Flight of the RC-135

During the early-morning hours of August 31-September 1, a United States Air Force RC-135 Cobra Ball reconnaissance plane was engaged in a mission to gather electronic intelligence, flying a "racetrack" course at sea off the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was tasked with capturing the telemetry of the SS-25 missile, illegal according to Salt ll agreements, which the Soviets were to launch that night from Plesetsk in north west Russia to come down in the Klyuchi target range on Kamchatka. For hours the Soviets were aware of this flight, having picked it up on radar while in its inward track (i.e. the track closest to the coastline) before it would disappear from the radar on its outward track. The racetrack course was repeated several times during the night until KAL 007 arrived on the scene, following closely the inward track of the RC-135; since the jumbo jet did not veer off course as the Soviets expected it to do (assuming they thought it was the RC-135), they had an opportunity to intercept it.

There has always been a question concerning the capability, and the actualization of that capability, of the RC-135 to become aware of KAL 007 as it penetrated into Soviet air space and to warn it. During the civil litigation for damages to the families of the victims of the shootdown, Chief Justice of the District Court of Washington, D.C., Aubrey Robinson, ruled out legal recourse to finding out on grounds that it would endanger National Security. He allowed only, on April 18, 1984, questions to the military, "but only in respect to uncovering the legal duty [of the military] to warn or advise civilian aircraft".

The RC-135 was manufactured by Boeing, and is a military variant of the civilian 707 passenger jet. Configured in several versions, this aircraft was used to conduct airborne surveillance from the 1960's through to the mid-1990's, and many were on routine patrols in the western Pacific Ocean monitoring Soviet activity.

Seymour Hersh, writing in his book The Target is Destroyed, mentioned what was called "psychological operations" (PSYOPS) programs carried out by the United States against the Soviets. These programs included massive naval exercises and simulated attacks carried out in proximity of critical Soviet bases. This, combined with the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) initiated by President Reagan, Cold War tensions rose to high levels. Just a scant four weeks from the KAL 007 disaster, operation Able Archer was conducted by the United States and its European allies; a reflection seen on Soviet radars was interpreted by many to be an actual first strike by intercontinental balistic missiles. Only the interpretation by a Soviet general that it was in reality a computer glitch from a malfunctioning satellite prevented a possible nuclear war.

Conspiracy theories

Spy plane theory

Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov on September 9, 1983, giving the Soviet version of the shootdown of Korean Airlines Flight 007
Major Gennadi Osipovich, the man who shot down KAL 007

According to this theory, KAL 007 was "bait" used by the United States to test Soviet response to a flight intrusion into their borders; the RC-135 would be listening in on the response, while the civilian plane would expected to be released from any forced landing, its crew claiming innocence due to being "lost".

The fact of the matter was the RC-135 was a virtually-windowless plane; the Soviet fighter pilots reported the contact as having multiple windows. Major Osipovich, the man who fired the fatal shot, stated he knew it was a civilian plane - "I saw two rows of windows and knew that this was a Boeing. I knew this was a civilian plane. But for me this meant nothing. It is easy to turn a civilian type of plane into one for military use." (New York Times interview, September 9, 1996). A Boeing 747, at nearly twice the size of an RC-135 and with its distinctive cockpit hump, is unmistakable for anything else in the air, and in 1983 none were in service with the U.S. military.

Assassination theory

The most prominent passenger on KAL 007 was a United States Congressman from Georgia, Democrat Larry McDonald, a firey anti-communist who was recently made the president of the John Birch Society, an organization dedicated to exposing the truth of communism and the Soviet Union. The theory goes was that the Soviets had wanted to silence McDonald, and being aware of his presence on the flight (he was on his way to Seoul for the 30th year anniversary of the U.S./South Korean Mutual Defense Treaty) sent the fighters aloft; it was sheer luck that the plane had drifted into Soviet airspace. About fifteen minutes behind was another flight, KAL 015, carrying to the anniversary celebration senators Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina), Steve Symms (R-Idaho), and Congressman Caroll Hubbard (D-Kentucky), all anti-communist like McDonald and also attending the ceremony in Seoul.

The theory specified that the Soviets knew of McDonald's activities and wished to silence him, despite the pretense of several more tempting targets on the other flight. There is no known evidence that the Soviets were even aware that McDonald was on the plane at all. They would find out after the news media broke the story on September 1.

The Case for Passenger Survival and Abduction

Contrary to the Interceptor pilot's report that "the target is destroyed", the Russian Federation handover of the original real-time communications of the shootdown show horrified Soviet commanders viewing, and relating what they are viewing, KAL 007 leveling out at 5,000 meters (at 18.31) and continuing at that altitude for over 4 minutes (18:35), turning north, approaching tiny Moneron Island (4 1/2 miles by 3 1/2miles), the only island in the whole Tatar straits, and then making a spiral descent.

General Anatoly Kornukov (Commander of Sokol Airbase on Sakhalin):
"Well, I understand, I do not understand the result, why is the target flying? Missiles were fired. Why is the target flying? [obscenities] Well, what is happening?"
Lt. Col. Novoseletski:
"Well, what is happening, what is the matter, who guided him in, he locked on, why didn’t he shoot it down?"

Debriefed former Soviet military men who had served on the Soviet maritime across from Sakhalin and Moneron and who had immigrated to Israel reported that the Soviet radar stations, including those at Komsomolsk-na-Amura and Edinka, tracked KAL 007 in its spiral descent until it was 1,000 feet above sea level (the point at which Soviet radar could not capture the aircraft due to curvature of the earth). This information was conveyed to the Minority Staff (Republican) under Senator Jesse Helms of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which issued in its Republican Staff Report [draft] of 1991 [13][14] this concluding statement - “KAL 007 PROBABLY DITCHED SUCCESSFULLY, THERE MAY HAVE BEEN SURVIVORS, THE SOVIETS HAVE BEEN LYING MASSIVELY, AND DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS NEED TO BE MADE TO RETURN THE POSSIBLE SURVIVORS.”

Deception regarding the crash site

Contrary to Russian insistance that they had no knowledge of where KAL 007 had come down, and had maintained lack of knowledge all through the Search and Rescue operations lasting more than two months, they knew exactly where KAL 007 was coming down, and where it had come down, which was over, and then near, Moneron Island. Here is what the Soviet high command saw and said as they saw KAL 007 spiraling down over Moneron Island in Soviet territoria; waters:

  • 18:33 GMT - KAL 007 is seen by Soviet radar at 5,000 meters at intial stage of spiral descent over Moneron Island. Lt. Col. Gerasimenko. "Altitude of target is 5,000." General Kornukov: "5,000 already?" Gerasimenko (18:34): "Affirmative, turning left, right, apparently it is descending." (ICAO '93, Information Paper No. 1, pg. 156)
  • 18:34 GMT - Last recorded location of KAL 007 in spiral descent over Moneron Island is within Soviet territorial waters. "Where is it now", "It is in the Moneron area", "In our territory?", "Affirmative" (ICAO '93, Information Paper No.1, pg. 156) And within minutes, two missions involving rescue helicopters, KGB patrol boats, and civilian ships were ordered by the Soviets to Moneron [15].
    Gen. Strogov (Deputy Commander for the Soviet Far East Military District):
    "The border guards. What ships do we now have near Moneron Island, if they are civilians, send [them] there immediately."
    Lt. Col Novoseletski:
    "Prepare whatever helicopters there are. Rescue helicopters."
    "Yes. And there will probably be a task set for the area where the target was lost."
    The U.S. Search and Rescue mission was prevented by the Soviets from entering their territorial water around Moneron. Rear Admiral Walter T. Piotti, Commander of Task Force 71 of U.S. 6th Fleet, stated "Had TF [task force] 71 been permitted to search without restriction imposed by claimed territorial waters, the aircraft stood a good chance of having been found. No wreckage of KAL 007 was found. However, the operation established, with a 95% or above confidence level, that the wreckage, or any significant portion of the aircraft, does not lie within the probability area outside the 12 NM area claimed by the Soviets as their territorial limit.”

    No Bodies!

    It was thought that since the Soviets claimed that they had retrieved no bodies, body parts or tissues from the surface of the sea in their territorial waters and the U.S. search and rescue operation yielded the same lack in the international waters where they could search, then the bodies of the occupants of KAL 007 would be found below the sea trapped in their watery tomb, the remains of KAL 007. Yet, former Soviet Divers reporting in Izvestia (Dec. 1991) of their visit to KAL 007 at the bottom of the sea, beginning 8 days after the shootdown (while Soviet vessels above and a few miles away in international waters pretended to be searching for KAL 007) were amazed that out of a passenger plane carrying 269 people, there was only one torso. (Reports to the Israel Research Center for Prisons, Psych-Prisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the U.S.S.R. were that passengers and crew were abducted and then KAL 007 sunk to simulate an aircraft having crashed into the sea). One of the divers, Viyacheslav Popov, said "I will confess that we felt great relief when we found out that there were no bodies at the bottom. Not only no bodies; there were also no suitcases or large bags. I did not miss a single dive. I have quite a clear impression: The aircraft was filled with garbage, but there were really no people there. Why? Usually when an aircraft crashes, even a small one... As a rule there are suitcases and bags, or at least the handles of the suitcases." Another of the divers, V. Zakharchenko, reported, “But the main thing was not what we had seen there but what we had not seen—the divers had found practically no human bodies or remains…”. It was a claim by the Soviets that the reason for the missing bodies was the large amount of crabs in the debris area. Yet, as Professor William Newman, marine biologist, explains “Even if we proceed from the supposition that crustaceans, or sharks, or something else fell upon the flesh, the skeletons should have remained. In many cases, skeletons were found on the sea or ocean floor, which had sat there for many years and even decades. In addition, the crustaceans would not have touched bones.” [16] Neither would they have consumed luggage. For the latest report (Oct. 1, 2000) from one of the divers who visited KAL 007 at the bottom shortly after the shootdown and who found no bodies and no luggage, see [17] .

    The Soviet Deception at Sea

    Reports had come in to the Israeli Research Centre charged with the debriefing, through the Jewish Agency, of former military men who were immigrating to Israel in the early 1990's that KAL 007 had been tracked by Soviet radar on the Siberian Maritime and had made what Soviet officers believed to be a safe water ditching off Moneron Island. Subsequent reports coming into the Research Centre from Russia itself indicated that the passengers and crew were abducted from the crippled and downed airliner, and the aircraft sunk and exploded under water with its wreckage scattered to simulate a plane having fallen from the skies. The appearance of secondary placement of the wreckage of KAL 007 was confirmed by some of the divers' reports [18]- pgs 10,11. These were some of the reports conveyed to Senator Jessie Helms of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and which prompted him, according to Helms' chief of Staff Admiral Bud Nance, to write to Boris Yeltsin concerning KAL 007 [19].

    The Soviet's own recording (from KGB head V. Chebrikov and Defence Minister D. Ustinov to Premier of Soviet Union Y. Andropov) of their deception of the U.S. fleet and the world, confirming that while they were pretending to search and while they were harrassing the U.S. fleet [20], they already knew where KAL 007 was, had already boarded her, and had secured for themselves the sought after "Black Box":

    "Simulated search efforts in the Sea of Japan are being performed by our vessels at present in order to disinform the US and Japan. These activities will be discontinued in accordance with a specific plan...
    "...Therefore, if the flight recorders shall be transferred to the western countries their objective data can equally be used by the USSR and the western countries in proving the opposite view points on the nature of the flight of the South Korean airplane. In such circumstances a new phase in anti-Soviet hysteria cannot be excluded.
    "In connection with all mentioned above it seems highly preferable not to transfer the flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or any third party willing to decipher their contents. The fact that the recorders are in possession of the USSR shall be kept secret...
    "As far as we are aware neither the US nor Japan has any information on the flight recorders. We have made necessary efforts in order to prevent any disclosure of the information in future.
    "Looking to your approval.
    "D.Ustinov, V.Chebrikov
    "____ December 1983" (From Top Secret Memos disclosed in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin and published in Izvestia, #228, Oct. 16, 1992.)

    A recent (Sept. 1, 2003) acknowledgement of the Soviet deception of the U.S. and allied search and rescue mission for KAL 007 comes from the the Russian Federation government itself - from the Deputy Director of State Archives of Recent History. He acknowledges that Soviet forces partcipated in the futile search for KAL 007 while all along knowing where it was. See [21]

    The Soviet Black Box Deception I: The Tapes

    The Black box tapes handed over to the ICAO investigators by the Soviet Union were of only the first minute and 44 seconds of KAL 007's post missile detonation 12 minute plus flight. The Russian Federation supplied military communications transcripts provide the rest of the documented flight showing that KAL 007 survived the missile attack and was able to maintain control, flying for nearly 5 minutes at level flight after pulling up from its dive, was able to maneuvoer, to turn north, to spiral down over the only available land site in the whole Tatar straits - Moneron Island. That the return of only part of the Black Box tapes which exclude the actual capabilities of KAL 007 to maintain controlled flight was intentional and deceptive is suggested by the following:

    1. Both components of the black box - the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) - were operating after the missile detonation.

    2. There is no evidence of impairment of the electrical system (High Frequency broadcast by KAL 007 to Japanese ground control after detonation of missile and all four engines reported by co-pilot to pilot to be operating normally.)

    3. Both recorders "stopped" minutes prior to any conjectured aerial mishap that might have damaged the Black Box (substantiated by both radar trackings and military real-time communications.)

    4. Both recorders, with electric lines on opposite sites of the fuselage and with separate points of attachments to their respective instruments, "stopped working" at precisely the same second - an incredible unlikelihood. ICAO '93 analysis notes no known reason for this to have happened.

    The Soviet Black Box Deception II: The Black Box itself

    The Soviets handed over only one minute and 44 seconds of the Black Box tapes. Both the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Digital Flight Data Recorder tapes which should have continued functioning until the end of the flight, whether by termination of the flight or by a crash, had "ceased simultaneously" (ICAO '93, ICAO analysis of the Black Box itself concluded that the damage to it "might have resulted from a high speed water impact" ( But the conjectured "high speed water impact" would have been at or after the documented 12 minutes post attack flight, and not at one minute and 44 seconds after missile detonation. The "high speed water impact" can not explain, then, the fact that the tapes ceased at 1 minute and 44 seconds. The rest of the tapes would have documented what the Soviet high command saw on their screens, as shown by the Soviet military communications handed to ICAO by the Russian Federation - KAL 007 regaining control, maintaining level flight at 16, 242 ft, turning, and descending in a spiral around Moneron Island. Why had the rest of the tapes not been returned by the Soviets and where are they now?

    There are credible but as yet unconfirmed reports of survivors in the former Soviet Union, including Congressman Larry McDonald [22] [23]. Jewish immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union reported seeing survivors from the flight. According to reports, most of the adult passengers ended up in labor camps, while the children were adopted out and absorbed into Soviet society. Congressman McDonald was interrogated in Lubyanka Prison in Moskow for a time before he too was sent to forced labor.

    Who ordered the shootdown

    Who ordered the shootdown on the Soviet military side is fairly well known and on the political side, the lines leading up to the General Secretary of the Communist Party and head of the Soviet Union Yuri Andropov, can confidently be conjectured by "working up" the Soviet hierarchical system of command. General Anatoli Kornukov, the Commander of Sokol Air Base on Sakhalin was the "tactical" commander of the shootdown and subordinate to the "strategic" commander of the shootdown - General Valeri Kamensky (General Kornukov would later become head of the Russian Air Force). General Kamensky was the Commander of the Soviet Far East Air Defence forces and would have informed both General Ivan Moseivich Tretyak [24]- his direct superior and Commander of the Soviet Far East Military District as his direct commander, and informed the Commander-in Chief of Air Defense Forces at the National Command Center in Kalinin. This was Gen. Alexandr Koldunov. As this was an emergency, the Commander in Chief of Soviet Air Forces (VVS), Chief Marshal of Aviation Pavel Kutakhov would have been informed. As the test of the illegal (Salt ll) SS-25 had been planned for that night with the missile coming down on the Klyuchi target range of Kamchatka [25] - where KAL 007 was to traverse in its first intrusion of Soviet territory- the head of the First Directorate of Strategic Concealment (Maskirovka), First Deputy Chief of Staff Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev would have been present for any decision. Further, Chief of the Soviet General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defense Nikolai Ogarkov would have been in on any decision and would have informed his superior and link with the Political echelon, Minister of Defense Dmitri Ustinov. It is then that Yuri Andropov would have been in position for decision for shootdown. The telecommunications for this linkage up the Military and then Political chain of command would have been effected well within the hours starting at the first intrusion into Soviet controlled airspace - 1551 GMT (Missile detonation was at 18:26:02 GMT).


    The "black boxes" that were the data flight recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were hidden away for nearly ten years after their recovery by the Soviets, during which time they employed their own spin as to the nature of the flight. So damning was the black box evidence against them that they had hoped it would never see the light of day. Even Mikhail Gorbachev during his period of "glasnost" ("openness") kept assuring investigators that the black boxes did not exist.

    On December 10, 1992 Senator Jesse Helms wrote to Russian president Boris Yeltsin. "One of the greatest tragedies of the Cold War," he wrote, "was the shoot-down of the Korean Airlines Flight 007 by the Armed Forces of what was then the Soviet Union on September 1, 1983. . . The KAL-007 tragedy was one of the most tense incidences of the entire Cold War. However, now that relations between our two nations have improved substantially, I believe that it is time to resolve the mysteries surrounding this event. Clearing the air on this issue could help further to improve relations [26]." At about the same time a military memo boasting of the secret would make it's way into Yeltsin's hands, leading to the discovery of the black boxes as well as the top secret reports about them by the Soviet Defense Ministry. Yeltsin would ultimately respond on January 8, 1993 by handing over to the International Civil Aviation Organization what the Russians had for so many years denied possessing: the tapes of the KAL 007's "Black Box" (its Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder). [27][28]

    Concerning Stacy (3 years old) and Noelle (5 years old) Grenfell, passengers aboard KAL 007, Senator Helms, who was on sister flight KAL 015 also on the way to Seoul, South Korea, wrote:

    I’ll never forget that night when that plane was just beside ours at Anchorage airport with two little girls and their parents...I taught them, among other things, to say I love you in deaf language, and the last thing they did when they turned the corner was stick up their little hands and tell me they loved me. [29]

    Korean Airlines Flight 007 was a victim of the Cold War, a flight that had simply gone off course in the wrong place and at the wrong time. A minor careless discrepancy by the plane's pilot combined with Soviet paranoia helped to end the lives of 269 passengers and crew.

    See also


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