Congressmen Hale Boggs and Nick Begich Disappear in Alaska
From the wilderness of kodiak island alaska this is murder and mystery in the last frontier with your host robin airfield in a land full of peril and vicious animals. Humans are the most dangerous s. predators of all when you picture alaska. What do you see see do you imagine rugged mountains waves crashing into sheer cliffs roaring rivers steep glaciers deep canyons and rolling tundra alaska is all of this and more and it's a thrill to fly over this stunning scenery on clear summer day. Take this geography geography shrouded in fog and add some win though and a beautiful plane ride turns into a harrowing adventure welcome to murder mystery in the last frontier. I'm your host robin fairfield and i'm broadcasting from the heart of the kodiak national wildlife refuge on kodiak island in alaska plane crashes are so far too common in alaska and many of these accidents are due at least in part to poor weather conditions if commercial pilots refused to fly in marginal weather though they would not make money because the weather is often bad in alaska for those of us who live or work in remote areas we must fly in small planes and we can't always pick our weather mysteries abound in alaska about airplanes that took off and were never seen again. The following is a story of one of the most famous airplane disappearances in the history of the state on october sixteenth nineteen seventy-two a cessna assessment three ten with the tail number in one eight one two h operated by pan alaska airways disappeared appeared somewhere between anchorage and juneau alaska. The plane was piloted by don jones thirty eight the chief pilot for pan alaska. Ska jones was a military veteran with more than seventeen thousand hours of flight time. The passengers on the plane were alaska. Congressman nick baggage baggage forty his aide russell brown thirty seven and louisiana congressman hale boggs fifty eight the u._s. house of representatives majority leader. The three men were planning to attend an election rally for baggage and juno. The plane left anchorage at nine a._m. And jones filed a via far flight plan stating he planned to fly southeast over the tourniquet arm of cook inlet through portage pass over prince william sound to johnstone point and then onto jaka tat from jaka taty would fly directly to juno the flight should take approximately three three and one half hours in the airplane carried six hours of fuel. The weather was marginal throughout the entire area on october sixteenth. Jaka todd had a seven hundred foot ceiling and one and one half miles visibility with fog june l- also had fog in addition to the poor core visibility. I see rain and turbulent headwinds for forecasted enroute when the plane did not arrive in juneau and was declared missing the u._s. launched the largest search and rescue effort on record up until that time the search lasted thirty nine days and included forty forty military aircraft and fifty civilian planes covering over three hundred and twenty five thousand square miles pilots flew one thousand thousand sorties totaling thirty six hundred flight hours the search encompassed huge glaciers and the jagged rangel saint elias mountain range as well as large portions of the coastlines of prince william sound and the gulf of alaska in addition to the air operation ground patrols searched searched party pass twice. No piece of the aircraft was ever located during the initial search or sense and officials at the time decided sided the plane likely crashed and either sank into prince william sound or was buried in ice and snow. Did the plane hit a mountain obscured by fog doug or did turbulence play a role in the disaster icing on the wings could have affected lift maneuverability or any combination of these factors might have caused the plane to crash a recent alaska law passed just months before the plane disappeared required all small all commercial aircraft be equipped with an emergency locator transmitter such a device would have sent out a signal if the plane crashed on land if it crashed in the water though it is less certain a signal would have been relaid officials claimed no signal was ever received and they determined there was no locator device on the downed aircraft officials terminated the search for the airplane on november twenty fourth and the four men. Dan were declared dead on december twenty ninth. Even though bogs and baggage were presumed dead. Both men were re elected to the house of representatives bogs. Widow lindy went onto replace her husband and congress and served eight more terms in alaska. A special special election was held and republican don. Young who had originally lost to baggage was elected young is still alaska's congressman once the search for the plane was terminated and the men were declared dead. Most people assume the obvious the pilot had simply pushed the boundaries too far under pressure perhaps from the congressman to get them to the political rally in juneau on time jones chose to fly in marginal weather conditions editions pilots are often asked by demanding passengers to fly in poor weather when those passengers are high ranking politicians a pilot it might find it difficult to refuse them. Nick beg which was only a freshman congressman from sparsely populated state but hale bogs was a colorful outspoken representative from louisiana who likely would have been chosen as the next speaker of the house of representatives. Many people refused to believe he disappeared by accident and conspiracy theories swirled around his untimely death to this this day many think he was the victim of foul play instead of a hapless passenger on an ill-fated flight hale boggs a democrat was first elected as a u s representative from louisiana in one thousand nine hundred forty six and he was reelected thirteen times james boggs was the youngest member of the warren commission which investigated the assassination of john f kennedy in nineteen sixty six interview on face the nation bogs defended the findings of the warren commission and said he believed lee harvey oswald oswald acted alone when he killed kennedy despite this assertion though a rumor persisted the bogs was not happy with the warren commission's sion's findings and was seeking to reopen the kennedy investigation around eleven thirty pm on july twenty third nineteen seventy two years before he disappeared a lincoln continental ran boxes car off the road in washington d._c. Bogs chased chase. The car wrote down the license plate number and called the police but there is no record. The incident was investigated the washington turn d._c. Metropolitan police would have been the agency in charge of the investigation but they now say they can find no relevant records relating related to the case in april nineteen. Seventy-one boggs claimed the f._b._i. Tapped his telephone furthermore. He said serveral other representatives also believed their phones had been tapped. Boggs said he knew why the f. b. I. tapped his phone and how they intended not to use the information. They heard he refused to say what that information was but said once his lawyers finished their investigation he they would release the details to the public bogs then called for the immediate resignation of f._b._i. Director j edgar hoover her attorney general john mitchell denied bogs allegations about the f._b._i. But bog said he was absolutely certain the f._b._i. Had placed a tap on his phone immediately. After the cessna three ten caring bogs baggage brown and jones jones disappeared the u._s. coastguard station in long beach california received a call from an anonymous tipster claiming he knew where where the plane had crashed the man said he had access to experimental electronic equipment and he provided detailed directions to the coordinates of the downed airplane according to recently released documents the f._b._i. Apparently found the source believable and one agent wrote. The source of the aforementioned information is reliable agents who interviewed the man reported he appeared rational extremely intelligent but somewhat strange it is not clear whether searchers checked the coordinates the tipster provided in the hours and days following the disappearance of the plane several independent ham radio operators in northern california reported hearing transmission from someone on the downed on plane broadcasting. There were survivors on the plane. Searchers were never able to pinpoint the location or the origin of these transmissions according to the f. b. i. file the day after the plane disappeared. A search plane picked up a signal for forty minutes some distance from juno from what was believed to be a crash locator beacon another weaker signal was heard one hundred and fifty miles northeast of anchorage but search planes were unable to pinpoint the source of either signal freelance writer. Jonathan wall zack has spent a great deal of time and money investigating being the disappearance of pan alaska airways in one eight one two h and he believes if the plane was sabotaged. The likely weekly target was nick baggage. Not hale boggs. Wall zach writes that the consensus is the plane crashed somewhere between portage pass. Ask in johnstone point about an hour into the flight if the plane was covered with ice as weather conditions that day suggest and it crashed into prince william sound it likely would have sunk to the bottom one question remains though what caused the plane to crash wall zach learned that on march fourth nineteen seventy four less than seventeen months after the disappearance of her husband peggy gi baggage the widow of congressman nick begging married jerry max paisley a mafia connected killer and bomber the the marriage lasted only two years in nineteen ninety four when paisley was imprisoned in arizona for murder he spoke with investigators from the anchorage police department department the alaska state troopers and the arizona department of public safety paisley provided details to several unsolved help murders and made shocking claims but the most surprising thing he said was he transported a bomb to alaska in nineteen seventy-two paisley worked for mobsters including joe bonanno senior and he admitted to several bombings and murders. He was imprisoned in nineteen ninety ninety four for gunning down a man in tucson hotel at his trial. He told the jury he was ashamed. He had killed people paisley knew he would spend the rest of his life in prison and said he wanted to come clean about several other killings. Including the murder have ex wife's first husband nick baggage paisley told investigators that in one thousand nine hundred seventy two he was handed a locked briefcase by banana lieutenant in arizona. He was instructed structure to take the briefcase to anchorage where he handed it to two men. He flew back to arizona the following day. He said he was told something. So big was about to happen and soon afterward. The plane carrying baggage embargoes disappeared paisley said he then moved to anchorage and began dating peggy baggage a woman he had met through mutual friends in arizona and had dated before the plane went missing paisley claimed peggy gave him lavish gifts including co ownership in a bar. His partners in the bar were peggy and one of the men to whom he had had handed the briefcase in nineteen seventy two. He said he and this man were fishing. One day when the man got drunk and told paisley the briefcase briefcase contained a high tech bomb according to paisley the man said he placed the bomb on pan alaska in one eight one one two h before it left on its spinal flight with begs bogs brown and jones onboard the investigators were shocked by paisley's claims and immediately notified the f._b._i. Who sent agents to interview paisley. In nineteen ninety five retired anchorage police lee sergeant mike grimes told wall sack he was stunned by paisley's claims and when he returned to anchorage from his interview with paisley in the arizona prison he he immediately contacted an f. b. i. agent he knew anchorage when grimes didn't hear back from the agent for several weeks he again contacted her her and she insisted they meet somewhere other than her office. The agent told grimes when her boss called f._b._i. Headquarters is in washington with the information. He was told you will do nothing there. You will send everything you have to us. Other investigators instigators also told walls act. They were surprised the f._b._i. Did not vigorously investigate. Paisley's claims of a bomb paisley agreed to take a polygraph graf but it is not clear whether the f._b._i. Ever administered one to him the f._b._i. Shut down the investigation immediately. Max paisley died in prison in two thousand ten at the age of sixty nine. Was he telling the truth about the bomb. It is a in fact paisley married peggy baggage less than seventeen months after husband disappeared and there was no upside for paisley to claim he was responsible for carrying hearing the bomb to alaska confessing this someone in the banana crime family sent him to alaska with a bomb could have put his life in jeopardy imprison. So what reason did he have for lying about the matter but if he was telling the truth why did someone put a bomb on the plane and who would want to murder nick baggage. If paisley knew the answers to these questions he apparently never told anyone. I admit wall zack's research is interesting but we have no way of knowing whether paisley was telling the truth during his jailhouse confession also also what are we to make of the broadcast heard by ham radio operators in california and what about the mysterious stranger who claimed to know where the plane clean head crashed in my opinion the most likely scenario for the disappearance of pan alaska in one eight one two h was bad whether including fog turbulence and icing the plane probably crashed and sank to the bottom of prince william sound but we will never ever know the truth unless the wreckage is found baggage and boggs both had very successful children nick beggs. Jason mark became the mayor of anchorage from two thousand three to two thousand nine and was a u._s. Senator for alaska from two thousand nine to two thousand fifteen hale boggs daughter cokie okay roberts is a national news correspondent since nineteen sixty two more than forty cases of missing aircraft remain open in in alaska. No missing aircraft cases closed until substantial evidence provides information to the location of the aircraft. Maybe one day we will know what happened to pan alaska in one eight one two h thank you for listening and if you enjoy the podcast please leave a review at apple apple podcasts so other listeners can find me. I've listed the sources and suggested reading for this episode in the show notes. I've written four alaska wilderness mystery novels. Check the show notes to learn more about my novels. 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