Thirty three years ago today, on 30 January 1979, after an exhibition in Tokyo, a Varig, cargo Boeing 707-323C registration PP-VLU en route from Tokyo – Narita to Rio de Janeiro-Galeão via Los Angeles went missing over the Pacific Ocean some 30 minutes (200 km ENE) from Tokyo. The wreck was never found.
Gilberto Araujo da Silva was captain of the 707.
153 paintings by Manabu Mabe were on board the 707. Manabu Mabe was a Japanese painter from Sao Paulo Brazil; he died eight days after his seventy third birthday in 1997. Manabu moved to Brazil when he was seven; his father was retreating from failed business ventures in Japan. By Manabu’s thirty fifth birthday his unique modern-Japanese-Brazilian style had been discovered by international art communities, and he was famous. The large Tokyo exhibit occurred when he was fifty four, and at the height of his talent and popularity.
Almost five-and-a-half years earlier, on 11 July 1973, Gilber was captaining another Boeing 707 which made an emergency landing in a 5km short of the runway of Orly airport outside Paris. A fire had started in the rear bathroom, and the cabin had filled with smoke. By the time Gilbert landed the plane 123 people on board were dead; most by smoke inhalation. Ten of the eleven people who survived were crewmembers.
Among the dead was Filinto Müller, age seventy three. Filinto was a well-known Nazi collaborator, and one of the architects of the vast repressive system of Estado Novo, who had risen through the political ranks of Brazil to become head of Brazil’s Senate. It is rumored that Filinto sometimes personally participated in torture sessions and summary executions against political opponents. In 1937 he visited Nazi Germany at the personal invitation of Heinrich Himmler.