Ben Charles Padilla (born 1952 in Pensacola, Florida) is a small airplane pilot, and a jet airplane mechanic who was lost, on May 25 of 2003, in the African country of Angola.
Padilla was in Angola because an airplane leasing company had sent him there, to participate as an in-flight mechanic during a ferry flight of a Boeing 727 airplane to the company's headquarters. The airplane took off, without permission to do so, from DeFevereiro International Airport, in Luanda, and Padilla has not been seen after. His disappearance sparkled many rumors, most of them tying it with terrorism. It also caused a world-wide search by both the FBI and the CIA. Padilla is not believed to have had any previous contacts with the people who flew the airplane off.
On January 6, 2004, his siblings declared on television that they have received several calls from around the world offering tips as to the whereabouts of the jet-liner, which used to fly for American Airlines with the registration #N844AA, one of them placing it in Lebanon. However, none of the calls have disclosed sightings of Padilla himself.
After the crash of UTA Flight 141, on December 25 of 2003, rumors spread that the jet-liner used for that flight could in fact, be the airplane that Padilla was supposed to be flying in when his (and the plane's) mysterious disappearance occurred.