Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Downing of KAL Flight 007

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9.  Did KAL 007 land on Sakhalin or on the water off Moneron?

Among those who are convinced that KAL 007 landed safely and that the passengers were rescued and luggage removed, there are two theories as to where the plane landed. Both theories and locations have a measure of support. We believe that the plane ditched on the water off the tiny island of Moneron but will present the pros and cons of each position. The final result, in either case, is the same as far as we are concerned-the passengers and crew were taken captive and were not killed in the destruction of the plane.

It has been pointed out that the earliest reports of politically controversial events are often the most accurate. These are the reports that become public before those who have a vested interest in a specific viewpoint have the chance to begin efforts to control or “spin” the reportage. The very first reports about the downing of KAL 007 all stated that the plane landed on the large Soviet island of Sakhalin, home to several military and commercial airfields. These reports are amply documented in three articles written by Robert W. Lee for The New American magazine. He has a copy of a tape recording of FAA spokesman, Duty Officer Orville Brockman, notifying Congressman Larry McDonald’s press aide Tommy Toles that the plane was tracked to a landing on Sakhalin by Japanese Self-Defense Force radar. Those who have listened to this tape also comment on the tone as being very matter-of-fact which lends credence to the idea that the spokesman believed his report to be true and was simply passing on factual information rather than participating in any false reporting. Other accounts include an article in the New York Times of September 1, 1983-the first article on the shootdown by that paper-stating that early reports said the plane was forced down and landed on Sakhalin and that all aboard were believed to be safe, and the very first UPI wire story, dateline Seoul, Sept. 1, 1983 giving much the same information. These reports came, according to the article, from Korean Foreign Ministry officials based on US CIA reports to them. The President of Korean Airlines also traveled to Japan on his way to Sakhalin to meet the passengers and crew, apparently believing them to be alive.  On the other hand, Fred Smith, Congressman McDonald’s administrative assistant, doubted these first reports and went to the Pentagon for verification.  There he learned that the plane had been shot down. (From personal correspondence with the authors.)

It is also logical that the pilot of a stricken aircraft, especially if he continued to have a measure of control over it, would look for the nearest and best place to land. This would certainly be a regular runway rather than the open sea under cloudy skies in the dark.

The problem with this view is that there is no other evidence to support it and some of the early reporters later recanted; whereas, there is considerable evidence from a variety of sources to support the contention that the plane landed on the water off Moneron. None of the reports of a landing on Sakhalin specify an airfield or designate any specific landing site. It is conceivable that “Sakhalin” may have been used to refer to the general area of the large island and that it was passed along as being more precise than it really was meant to be.


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