Capt. Tom Reinke and Korean Airlines 007 (KAL007)

Dear Fellow SPAR Members,

This September 1st will mark the 25th anniversary of the loss of KAL007 as a result of the off-course excursion it experienced which caused it to be shot down by MIG fighters after crossing over Sakhalin Island. To my knowledge a rational explanation has yet to be provided by any governmental agency, author, or other entity that explains how that excursion could have happened. I believe it is about time for the mystery to resolved for the satisfaction and relief of those affected, for the aviation community at large, and for the general public. The issue appears to be beyond the concern of government. Even with their unlimited funds, investigative resources and powers it appears considerations beyond public disclosure has affected this matters resolution. It appears a few concerned citizens with no hidden agenda or ulterior motivation may be relegated to resolve this long standing mystery.

As a former Air Force navigator, Seaboard navigator, Seaboard check navigator, Seaboard Self-Contained Nav System system developer, the person responsible for defining the reasons for Seaboard's off-course excursion and ultimate forced landing at Iturup, and a B-747 captain I have a very keen sense of the unique problems, equipment, and procedures associated with this incident that qualifies me to undertake an investigation of this mystery.

My hope in regard to KAL007 would be to put together a paper developed by SPAR members that would define a scenario that would properly describe the events that could have realistically resulted in the off-course excursion experienced.

At the time of the shootdown I became engrossed in developing a scenario that would allow for a 747, equipped as I thought it would be, to nevertheless deviate off-course for the required time without the transgression being detected. I was under the assumption that KAL007 would have been equipped, as ours were, with Delco Carousel INS units. Thus equipped I was unable to develop a logical explanation for an undetected off-course excursion. About two weeks after the shootdown, I was listening to the end of the evening news (I think it was NBC's Tom Brokaw) when the something was said that changed everything. I blurted out a loud "I've Got It" exclamation upon hearing the news item. The announcement was made casually obviously just giving the catastrophic news an update without realizing its importance. He had said something like this: "We have just learned that the KAL007 aircraft had its three INS units removed and exchanged with new INS units made by LITTON." The significance of this was profound. Seaboard had experienced a major off-course experience years before on the Atlantic while using LITTON INSs. Things were beginning to make some sense. But this was only one aspect of the dilemma, the "human factor". As is normally the case other factors were involved. As yet the "mechanical factor" had yet to be recognized. Needing to be explained was how the autopilot would have failed to maintain the programmed INS track. This remained unresolved until 1986 when, on my first trip as captain after IOE, I experienced a unique failure that coalesced the scenario, one that should convince any experienced analyst. Since that time I believe I have held a firm understanding of the fundamental problems that resulted in the excursion. I have freely shared these thoughts on many occasions to a variety of people in the hope that they would at some time, in some way, make a connection to someone that could make the case public. This hasn't happened. I have long thought that after 25 years I would have to do something to affect that outcome. I don't believe I have the personal qualifications, aptitude, connections, or capabilities to get the job done. I need help.

I would like to call upon SPAR members to contribute their unique capabilities be it technical, literary, or perhaps associative. I am sure we have the necessary variety of resources to put together a plan to disseminate the scenario effectively. Initially, I would like to confirm my understanding of certain specific equipment installed on KAL007. Should confirmation of the equipment's operation be obtained the scenario's viability should be unassailable. Subsequently, a paper would be developed to describe the scenario's complexities. This would require writing skills beyond my personal capabilities. Ultimately a respected resource for disseminating the paper would need to be found that would be capable of mass distribution. Preferably this would be accompanied by a personal recommendation by a highly respected aviation authority.

The families of the hundreds of victims of the shootdown deserve to know how their loved ones aircraft strayed into a known area of danger. They have been exposed to too many wildly speculative, self serving, overly imaginative, or politically motivated scenarios. It's time for the simple unadulterated truth to be revealed.

Please consider what you have to offer. Let's begin a dialogue.

My E-mail address is listed in the E-Mail Address section of SPAR's Member's Directories page.

Tom Reinke