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UQ Wire: 911 The American Connection

9/11: The American Connection


New scandal spotlights terror flight school's hidden ties
VENICE, FL— May 27
by Daniel Hopsicker
MadCowMorningNews World Exclusive!
may not be re-printed without permission
From: http://www.madcowprod.com


IMAGE: Jeb Bush With The Hilliard Williams Crime Family

***************

A controversy over the sudden closing of a flight school in Orlando in early March reveals a hidden connection between the bankruptcy in Orlando and the secretive organization which ran Huffman Aviation in Venice, the unacknowledged home base of Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg cadre during almost their entire time in the U.S.

The investigation into the disappearance of millions of dollars which students had been forced to pre-pay in tuition has led to 70-year old Wallace J. Hilliard of Naples, FL, the shadowy financier whose purchase of Huffman in partnership with Dutch national Rudi Dekkers, currently awaiting trial on felony fraud, set in motion a chain of events culminating in two former students piloting Boeing 767's into the World Trade Center Towers.

When 21-year-old Tiffany Traynor moved from Michigan to Central Florida last year to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an airline pilot at the Airline Training Academy (ATA) in Orlando, the last thing she expected was to lose $75,000 and have her career placed on hold when the school closed without warning and its owners dropped out of sight.

But that’s what happened to her, and 300 other fledgling pilots whose career dreams were dashed by the loss of millions they had pre-paid the school in tuition for training they will never receive.

In the blink of an eye, bright futures turned bleak, as 20-yr-old students were suddenly left with $100,000 student loans to pay off and nothing to show for it.

Individual losses were so large because the Airline Training Academy, owned and run by the family of retired Delta pilot Jim Williams, followed the unusual practice of forcing students to pre-pay, in full, for training.

It appears in hindsight that the Williams family was thinking ahead.

*************

"No big deal. It only filled two suitcases."

But while the sudden closing of ATA in Orlando is a heavy blow to hopeful future airline pilots, it has proven useful in illuminating the murky world of aviation from which the 9/11 tragedy sprung.

“Mystery financier” Wally Hilliard is the common thread between the flight school ‘bust-out’ in Orlando and the story of the terrorists flight training. How and why Hilliard, a retired insurance executive from Green Bay, Wisconsin, has come to play a pivotal role in aviation in Florida is just one of the many critical questions about 9/11 which remain unexplained.

Besides playing host to Mohamed Atta, Hilliard’s most notable recent aviation involvement was as owner of a Learjet surrounded by machinegun-toting DEA agents on the runway of Orlando Executive Airport in July of 2000--the same month Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi began training at his flight school--and discovered to be carrying 43 pounds of heroin aboard. Officials later described the haul as the largest seizure of heroin in Central Florida history.

But none of the frantic would-be airline pilots seeking to discover what had happened to their money when the doors clanged shut at the Airline Training Academy had yet heard of Wally Hilliard.

But that was about to change.

The student's nightmare began when they showed up for classes on a typical Friday morning, only to learn that the school’s doors had closed.

They went looking for the school’s owners and managers—all members of the Williams family—for answers.

*************

"Mum's the word in Orlando."

But there wasn't anybody from the school's management to ask. What the students found, instead, were grim-faced security guards, who told them to leave and ushered them away from the school by mid-morning. For the students the frustration was only beginning...

The company's phones went unanswered. Executives could not be reached. The corporation's Orlando lawyer did not respond to phone calls at his office or at home. Amid rumors that some had skipped town, the school’s management had dropped from sight.

Students questioned why the school had continued taking large sums of money for tuition even as it was about to shut down.

“They closed on a Thursday night,” student Ted Ballard told the Orlando Sentinel. “On that Thursday, they took tuition money as late as 11 a.m., had it deposited in the bank by 2 p.m. and closed the school at 5 p.m.”

The owners weren’t talking. The Williams family made no statements. When the school shut down, "they basically just disappeared,” said student Ballard.

And this is where Wally Hilliard enters the picture, after students began to suspect that some criminal sleight of hand might have played a role in stripping the school of assets. They suspected they may have been the victims of a particularly cruel scam.

Attempting to protect any remaining assets, the students went to court, and sued.

*************

"The family that preys together..."

The suit alleged that in the weeks leading up to ATA's sudden closure the defendants had been “fraudulently soliciting new students, and requesting and accepting payments of substantial tuition, all in cash and in advance.”

At the same time, according to the lawsuit, the Williams had been acquiring expensive luxury automobiles for their personal use and otherwise engaging in a lifestyle free from signs of financial distress or difficulty.

The family seemed to have money to burn, the students alleged. Their money.

Suspicion focused on a transaction the previous year in which the William’s family sold a charter air carrier, Discover Air, to Sunrise Airlines, an aviation holding company controlled by Wally Hilliard.

"At least three million got siphoned out of ATA and into Discover Air," an attorney for the students told us. "The money flowed out of the country to the Bahamas."

Conveniently, Wally Hilliard owns an aviation facility in Nassau called Executive Air, run by Alfonso Bowe, a South African native, where the busy Mr. Hilliard also owns a winery.

Students wanted to know: is there a connection between the transfer of ownership of Discover Air to Hilliard and the disappearance of millions of dollars of the student's money? Had the Williams family concealed the assets of their about-to-be-bankrupted flight school through the ruse of transferring them into another company?

While they were unable to get answers about much of anything else, the students discovered that they could get a loud and immediate answer to this question.

Don't be silly. ATA’s bankruptcy had nothing to do with Discover Air, the students were told.

The general manager at Discover Air, Tommy Barraza, said ATA and Discover Air were "definitely not connected;" they ‘just happened’ to share the same officers, members of the family of "Captain Jim" Williams, head honcho of the flight school, and his son Scott, Discover Air's CEO.

"They're just a big family," said Barraza.

*************

Katherine Harris: the gift that keeps on giving

Scott Williams wasn’t available to speak to a reporter, he said, because "he's not around much."
Since they were separately owned, it must have just been coincidence that Discover Air went bankrupt within a month of the closing of the flight school.

There had been no commingling of funds. No transfer of assets.

But look at the Discover Air website, the students countered, which identified the flight school as "the parent company of Discover Air."

There was no response from the school's owners. Well, there was one...

They took the website down.

Nor is this the only documentation to disappear in connection with the case. There is the famous visit by Gov. Jeb Bush to Discover Air commemorated on their website, and then erased after the MadCowMorningNews called attention to it.

And at the same time ATA and Discover Air were going bust, corporate filings relating to Wally Hilliard and his operations had begun to go missing at the Secretary of State’s office in Tallahassee—Katherine Harris’s office.

A leading 9/11 researcher gave us an early ‘heads up’ about the problem...

“It should be very simple to look up earlier annual reports and documents...but in the past two months the Secretary of State has made many documents unavailable online,” she told us over a year ago.

“It's as though this was a parting gift from Katherine Harris.”

Harris, we recalled, was one of two Florida officials—the other being Gov. Jeb Bush—who somehow found it necessary to publicly praise Wally Hilliard’s airline—then flying as “Florida Air”— even though it too had been going bankrupt at the time, six months before the 9/11 attack.

*************

A document that would have gone 'missing.'

We began keeping a running total of bankruptcies of Wally Hilliard-related aviation concerns.
Already we were up to three.

After being warned of the government’s chicanery in Florida—not, most would agree, a particularly unusual event—staffers at the MadCowMorningNews downloaded from the Florida Secretary of State’s website a number of documents.

One of these documents, we discovered, contains crucial evidence in the Orlando flight school’s bankruptcy, proving that two years before the Williams’ family say they ‘sold’ Discover Air to Wally Hilliard, Discover Air CEO Scott Williams filed incorporation papers with the Florida Secretary of State’s office...

The company he was incorporating, oddly enough, was Wally Hilliard’s Sunrise Airlines, the same company which supposedly purchased his company two years later.

This faux pas represents breathtakingly poor planning on some one's part, because it clearly and unmistakably reveals skullduggery that only the fainthearted would not term corporate fraud.

Corporate fraud was commonplace at Wally Hilliard’s various aviation enterprises, we learned from a former Director of Operations at Hilliard's Sunrise Airlines.

"I was the Director of Operations, which meant my job was to decide which flights to cancel every day... Rudi and Wally were running a whole bunch of companies as if they were just one entity. The Dekkers’ Aviation account, for example, was used to fund Sunrise debt," Bill Bersch told us.

“They had Florida Air, Dekkers Aviation Group, Florida Air Holdings, LLC, and even Florida Air Holdings, Inc., but since they intermingled funds all the time, I just thought of them as one company. They all had the same personnel and the same management, and they were all the same company,” he said.

*************

"A blemish, sure, but nobody's perfect."

"The airline lost $800,000 in two months. All together, (Florida Air) ended up costing Wally almost $8 million.

“Nobody will ever know the extent to which these guys engaged in underhanded business deals. They didn’t pay state taxes. They didn’t pay employee taxes.”

Not paying taxes is a blemish, to be sure. But commingling funds is a criminal act. Presumably the U.S. Government frowns on this sort of thing.

But when it comes to Wally Hilliard’s various aviation enterprises, the U.S. Government— for still unexplained reasons—often shows itself to be surprisingly generous...

One example with relevance to the Orlando controversy involves yet another Hilliard-related aviation bankruptcy, Sunrise Airlines, in November of 2000.

For those of you keeping score at home, we’re up to four.

The assets which the students suspected of having been illegally transferred out of the school before it went bankrupt were a number of Jetstreams, a 19-passenger commuter jet, which students had grown accustomed to seeing sit idle on the tarmac in front of the school's hanger.

Although they were being used by Discover Air, the MadCowMorningNews has discovered Government documents—copies of the leases between Jet Acceptance Corporation and Airline Training Academy—which reveal that these jets were being paid for by the flight school.

Now the Jetstreams were ‘missing.’ Gone.

Incredibly, this is not the first time these planes have been made to disappear.

*************

"Hiding Jetstreams from the Marshal"

Before it filed for Chapter 11, Sunrise was collecting more than $ 3.3 million a year in federal subsidies under the DOT's Essential Air Service program, a federal program implemented 20 years ago that offers subsidized service between rural airports and larger, urban airports.

In its bankruptcy petition, Sunrise Air said it was forced to shut down after it lost the six Jetstreams it was leasing when the lessor "improperly" terminated their lease.

The November 4, 2000 Las Vegas Review-Journal reported it this way:

“The only airline serving Ely is suspending its operations, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday. Sunrise Airlines notified the U.S. Transportation Department it was stopping service because British Airways was ending its aircraft leases, Reid's office said he was told by the department.”

It was a lie--but a convenient lie, which apparently kept the Dept of Transportation from asking for their three million dollars back--because when Wally Hilliard’s Sunrise Airlines went belly up, the six Jetstreams were merely “transferred” to two other of Hilliard’s false-front airline operations: Florida Air...and Discover Air.

When Sunrise Airlines ceased operations, they walked away with both the Jetstreams and the U.S. Government's $3.3 million. It was like going on “The Price Is Right” and getting to keep both the money and the car.

The proof was right there in the newspapers...

“Dekkers, one of Sunrise's owners, said 32 pilots are being trained to fly the six 19-passenger Jetstream J31 turboprops in its fleet,” the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported two months after the Jetstreams were supposed to have been repossessed.

These were the Jetstreams Senator Reid told his Nevada constituents had been suddenly taken back by BAE, resulting in the airline going under. They were now in Florida, and were it not for Rudi Dekker's ceaseless self-promotion no one would ever have been the wiser.

Discover Air also used these Jetstreams when they launched charter flights connecting Miami, Orlando, St Petersburg and West Palm Beach with Key West and the Bahamas.

Even if he did represent Nevada, a real life U.S. Senator had lied for Hilliard, which is certainly an impressive credential. How well-connected does one have to be—or how rich—to receive that kind of treatment from one's elected representatives?

*************

"What's Wally doing in Havana?"

Just weeks after launching the intra-state commuter service Florida Air went bankrupt, too, lasting barely long enough to get their only celebrity endorsement, a plug from Katherine Harris.

If you're still counting, we’re now up to five. Idle thought: how many companies going bankrupt are there that have been endorsed by both Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris?

For Hilliard, abject failure may be easier to endure when you encounter so much of it. The few professional airline personnel involved in Hilliard's operations found themselves baffled and puzzled about even the purpose of the enterprise.

“I used to look at Wally and Rudi and wonder what made them think they could start an airline,” former Director of Operations Bersch told us.

“I mean, I was on the executive team and here they were, trying to start an airline, and from August 2000 to the present we’ve had all of four business meetings.”

“Wouldn’t you think if you were trying to start an airline you’d have at least weekly meetings? And even when you could get a meeting scheduled, somebody would tell you that it had been canceled because Wally is in Havana.”

When Discover Air went bankrupt after ballyhooing new commuter air service between Orlando and Daytona Beach, reporters learned that not one person had bought a ticket on the flights.

That’s pretty brutal...if your aim is to be an airline.

If scheduled passenger service is the true aim of your enterprise, having not one person buy a ticket on your flights is a real embarrassment.

But flying passengers may not have been the purpose behind Discover Air or Florida Air or Sunrise Airlines. Some aviation observers see something more than just monumental incompetence in an operation simultaneously running drugs, 'busting out' companies at will, and training terrorists to fly.

Some suspect Wally Hilliard’s on-again off-again airlines were just cover.

Take, for example, the number of key personnel who have since been forced, as they say, to flee the country...like Pakistani national Pervez "P.J." Khan.

*************

"Forced to flee town in something of a hurry."

"Khan was flying Lear jets around for Wally, and crashed one of them in Punta Gorda, injuring eight people last year," one of Hilliard's current executives told us in the middle of a derisive personnel run-down. "He was running a shady operation for Wally, flying to Havana daily in a Cessna 402."

"The latest I hear about P.J. is that he has to flee the country for one particular reason, and I don’t know what that reason is," he said coyly.

Or another Sunrise Airlines executive, former CEO Ian Alexander...

"He came to work drunk all of the time," said Bill Bersch. "He used to live in Atlanta, came to work for Florida Air, and has since fled to Canada."

Recall that when British Prime Minister Blair named Al Qaeda as the terrorist organization responsible for the 9/11 attack, he didn’t say it was a global network...

He said it had ‘ties’ to one.

Nearly 18 months later U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham referred to “the most important information” obtained in the Congressional probe of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Graham couldn’t reveal the information, however. It was classified.

His co-Chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, who called it a “bombshell,” wasn’t at liberty to say either.
But what both men did indicate was that explosive evidence was being hidden from the American people involving an international organization or government which, the Senators said, had “facilitated the activities of the terrorist conspiracy while they were in the United States.”

The Senators sound like they're talking about Tony Blair’s unnamed ‘global network.’

*************

Living underground has its drawbacks

Certainly the notion that Mohamed Atta and his henchmen got help from an international organization while they were in Florida is easy to understand...

Logistical support is difficult to arrange from caves.

But to this day the identity of the organization in question remains a closely-guarded secret.

Now the recent events in Orlando—a central Florida crossroads which Mohamed Atta frequented often enough to have opened a second bank account there—may help change all that.

The man who owned the ‘terror’ flight school in Venice Florida is involved with false front airlines, dummy front companies, shadowy charter operations of dubious intent and a politically-well-connected network plugged in to everyone from First Brother Jeb Bush to Clinton "fund-raiser" Truman Arnold.

This is indisputably a ‘global network;’ it is both covert and unacknowledged, and it was the American interface with the terrorists while they were here.

And nobody is investigating it...except the MadCowMorningNews .

In the hours and days after the terrorist attack front man Rudi Dekkers loudly proclaimed his innocence of collusion with the terrorists. This statement did nothing to explain their puzzling move from a rough port famous for its red light district to a retirement community offering a broad choice of assisted living environments.

Federal authorities have apparently so far bought the story. Like almost everything else to do with the 9/11 attack, it has escaped official comment, not to mention notice in the major media.

The silence has been deafening.

It's too bad these guys are so politically—and every other way—- connected.

Otherwise somebody would probably look into it.

*******ENDS*******

- Daniel Hopsicker is the author of Barry & 'the boys: The CIA, the Mob and America's Secret History. About the author. - Email the author.


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STANDARD DISCLAIMER FROM UQ.ORG: UnansweredQuestions.org does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the above article. We present this in the interests of research -for the relevant information we believe it contains. We hope that the reader finds in it inspiration to work with us further, in helping to build bridges between our various investigative communities, towards a greater, common understanding of the unanswered questions which now lie before us.

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