By David Castro
Excelsior Airlines Flight 184, from New York City to Rome, landed at 1:33am after a nearly nine hour flight on November 20th 2015, six months ago with 472 souls on board. It landed but did not pull into its assigned disembarking area. The tower, already on alert because of the radio silence, sent out a ramp trunk and security crew to find out what was going on. When they entered the plane, finding it empty of crew and passengers. I, myself, have been tracking this story since it happened, both for my work as a reporter for the New York Daily Bulletin, but also because this did affect me somewhat personally. My brother-in-law, the husband of my wife’s sister, was a passenger on Flight 184.
This became international news and launched an international multi-agency investigation. This report is to convey what is known about this mystery, what is public information there is and what little has been put together in the last six months, and the new piece of evidence that had just been discovered.
The aircrew consisted of Captain Miranda Brown, First Officer James L Thompson, as well as 7 cabin crew members, In-Flight Service Manager Gail Cooper, and Flight Attendants Simone Singh, Maria de la Cruz, Maxine Wright, Jonas Smith, Morgan Black, and Talia Johnson. None of the crew had less than two years of experience in the air. There was an American Federal Air Marshal (FAM) on board, Thomas Anders Broden, who had been a FAM for ten years, and a Police Officer in Los Angeles, California, for fifteen years before that. The number of crew and passengers is important as the flight was also carrying a pair of HRs, or human remains. When the cargo was catalogued, these two bodies, Angelica Napoli (3/7/1971-10/13/2015) and Benjamin Francis D’Arnold (2/7/1948-10/15/2015) were still there.
There was no signs of discord on the plane itself, and the In Cabin Video Recording System (ICVRS), for as long as it was recording, found nothing out of the usual. At timestamp 08:02:12, 6:42pm eastern time, the ICVRS stopped working, going to static.
While this is not completely unusual, according to the black box, the plane was switched to autopilot a minute before this. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) did not record the voices of the pilot or co-pilot after that time, only picking up the sounds of things moving around in the cockpit and the plane shaking when it hit turbulence. Telemetry from the flight data recorder (FDR) puts Flight 184 over Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea at 6:42pm.
After nearly six months of investigations by American and Italian law enforcement agencies, as well as EUROPOL and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) found no explanation as to where the 472 people went, or how they got off the plane. What was discovered were the many details, often sordid, of the lives of the the victims.
Captain Miranda Brown was apparently having an affair behind her wife’s back with flight attendant Maxine Wright, often arranging for them to be on the same flight crews to continue the affair far from prying eyes.
Passenger 7B, a Daniel Volodin, was a minor actor in a Russian crime organization in Brooklyn, New York, and passenger 16E, Jessica Kerrian Blaine, had suitcases that had empty pouches hidden in their seams, probably to try to smuggle things back into the United States.
Of course, none of those things had any bearing on the mystery, and many of the victim’s families came together to form the group “Remembering the 472”, putting out press briefings about the good things some of the victims were doing that the media forgot to mention. For example, Passengers 15B-E were the Gala family, on their way for their yearly visit to the Vatican and Passenger 3C was Dr. Heather Jane with Doctors Without Borders, on her way to her fifth trip in as many years to helping people in third world nations get the medical care they so desperately require.
The transcripts of the CVR, FDR, ICVRS information, as well as the flight plan and passenger manifest has been released online. It has been poured over by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agencies, as well as their European Union and Italian counterparts, and a hundred civilian groups and conspiracy theorists. There are, at the time of this report, no fewer than 1,700 websites online proclaiming to know the truth of Excelsior Flight 184. Everything from alien abduction, holy or unholy intervention, to testing of ultra top-secret military weaponry; nothing at this point is too outlandish of an explanation of what happened to the people of that flight.
Public pressure eased in December of 2015, as the 24 hour news cycle had picked up on something else terrible happening in a different part of the world. There haven’t been any real updates since January, until this week. A Dr. Nathan Roth II, a professor of audio engineering out of University of California Berkeley. He took the audio file from the CVR and the audio track of the ICVRS and synced them together. After applying an algorithm that he himself designed, he was able to pull away all of the static, and finding that there was a similar sound wave on both. It would appear that only the video was disabled in the ICVRS recording. The sound is both in a tone too high pitched for human ears to pick up, but when lowered, the results are rather disturbing. A link to that recording will be at the bottom of this report on the New York Daily Bulletin website. The sound can only be described by this reporter as an eerie and feminine voice reading the names of people on the flight manifest, starting with the crew then the passengers in order of seat number.
Other sources has confirmed that this voice is on both the CVR and ICVRS recording. No one can explain whose voice it is, why it is there, or where it’s coming from, but it’s a new lead in this otherwise stagnant case. I can’t say if we’ll ever get the answers of what happened to the passengers and crew of Excelsior Flight 184. I have listened to that audio no fewer than eleven times, shivering when the name of my brother-in-law, Passenger 9E, Martin C. Ester, is read off by the chilling voice.
Four hundred seventy-two souls left JFK airport on November 20th of last year at 10:48am eastern time on Excelsior Air Flight 184, New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO). It landed at 1:33am, nearly nine hours later, central european time via autopilot with 0 souls on board. This event has impacted the lives of so many, beyond the victims and their families.
Excelsior Airlines had a steep drop in passengership after the event, both in canceled tickets and lower new purchases, leading to significant revenue losses and loss in stock value. The Remember the 472 group filed a class action lawsuit against the company, citing that under their watch so many people vanished, making them liable. It didn’t go anywhere in the courts, but it further dragged the company through the mud, and was the leading reason why Excelsior’s CEO, Pieter Samuelson, stepped down two months after the event. The company is still, effectively, rudderless as the board has yet to find a replacement, going through two different interim executives since. Sources that would like to remain nameless inside the company say that there have recently been talks of downsizing through all of this, another possible terrible result of this tragedy.
This reporter is still looking into this mystery, and will report again the next time anything is found out about this strange case. If you have any information, or would like to review past reports on Excelsior Flight 184, please do visit the New York Daily Bulletin’s website.