Editor’s note: This article is not implying or insinuating guilt. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
LAS VEGAS (INTELLIHUB) — A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed December 6, 2017, seeking “primary and secondary surveillance radar” return data from McCarran International Airport (KLAS) in a “byte for byte format” between the hours of 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. on the night of the 1 October shooting and a separate FOIA request seeking video surveillance footage of the airport’s “western edge” runways and “specifically the helicopter pads from both Sundance and Maverick Helicopters” between the hours of 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and all “air traffic control recordings of ground and terminal communications from KLAS and the helicopters” between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. was denied by the Federal Aviation Administration which ultimately cited “contemporaneous criminal investigations into those same events” after several months of correspondence.
Additionally, the original FOIA request provided to Intellihub dated December 6, 2017, requested records of who “piloted helicopters N854MH, N858MH, N848MH, N208SH, and N231SH” in particular between the hours of 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on October 1, 2017.
The request states:
Preliminary cause for alarm has been raised by examination of “FlightRadar24” archived data. Therefore officially authenticated data needs to be retrieved to either substantiate or negate the anomalous behavior of helicopters over Las Vegas during the horrific shooting event on Oct 1, 2017. In any event where coordinated efforts may be made to suppress information, suppress witnesses, and obfuscate facts the safest path for those involved is to rapidly disseminate relevant information to both state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the public they are sworn to protect. The lives of 58 people deserve to have all the facts immediately borne out.
In a response to the initial FOIA request the FAA made a “no records determination” which stated the following in the agency’s January 8, 2017 response:
A search was conducted by the Air Traffic Organization, System Operation Services, Performance Analysis Office using Federal Aviation Administration’s National Offload Program (NOP) repository but there were no records found responsive to your request. Please note that the NOP repository only has records for flights that operated under instrument flight rule (IFR), or under visual flight rules (VFR) and were tracked by air traffic control in a radar environment.
On January 18, 2018, a “request for reconsideration and appeal” regarding the FOIA request “no records determination” was placed “to all relevant parties” which stated:
I note that a denial was issued for flight track data on 5 aircraft using the NOP repository, however, my FOIA request was principally for the primary and secondary surveillance radar from KLAS (McCarran Airport) from 0200 UTC to 0800 UTC 10/02/2017 in a byte for byte format. In a separate FOIA request, I did also request information regarding 5 specific aircraft, so I will illustrate the complete initial requests (dated Dec 6, 2017) here:
- Per FOIA, I’d like a copy of both the primary and secondary surveillance radar from KLAS (McCarran Airport) from 0200 UTC to 0800 UTC on 10/02/2017 in a byte for byte format.
- In a seperate FOIA request, I’d also like any security footage from the FAA control center covering the western edge of KLAS — McCarran’s runways, and specifically the helicopter pads ofd both Sundance and Maverick Helicopters from approx 2100 – 2300 hrs Las Vegas time, 10/01/2017.
- In a tertiary FOIA request, I’d like ATC recordings of ground and terminal communications from KLAS with helicopters in flight from 0400 UTC to 0600 UTC 10/02/2017 in byte for byte format.
- If FAA has records of who piloted helicopters from 0400 UTC to 0600 UTC 10/02/1017, I request via FOIA the records of who piloted N854MH, N858MH, N848MH, N208SH, and N213SH.
- I also request the presice departure and arival times for each of the 5 aftermentioned helicopters.
- Lastly, via FOIA, [redacted] in relation to KLAS during 0200 UTC to 0800 UTC 10/02/2017.
It appears the FAA has conflated my request for secondary surveillance radar with my request for pilot/operator information for 5 specific helicopters. Therefore, FAA still needs to respond to the initial 6 requests, while simultaneously addressing this appeal. Reconsideration for this appeal is requested based on the attached information.
With respect to the flight track of 5 aircraft, the unique registration of those aircraft may have been insufficient, so perhaps FAA should additionally specify the following associated Mode-S codes:
Registration # N854MH, Mode-S code ABB74F
Registration # N858MH, Mode-S code ABC62B
Registration # N848MH, Mode-S code AB9EAC
Registration # N208SH, Mode-S code A1B153
Registration # N213SH, Mode-S code A1C63F
The bizarre denial of record specified that NOP only tracked aircraft under IFR and VFR and which were tracked by ATC in a radar environment. It is peculiar that I must point out to FAA that McCarran Airport, KLAS, is in fact a radar environment, and importantly of class B airspace. It is also peculiar that I must point out to FAA that all 5 of the aftermentioned aircraft were tracked by ATC, as required by the rules of class B airspace, and is indicated by the attached audio and records retrievable from LiveATC.net among other sources.
According to the rules of U.S. Class B airspace, via Wikipedia: “All aircraft entering class B airspace must obtain ATC clearance prior to entry and must be prepared for denial of clearance. Aircraft must be equipped with a two-way radio for communications with ATC and an operating Mode C transponder, furthermore aircraft overflying the upper limit of any class B airspace must have an operating Mode C transponder. Visual flight rules (VFR) flights may proceed under their own navigation after obtaining clearance but must obey any explicit instructions given by ATC. Some class B airspaces include special transition routes for VFR flight that require communication with ATC but may not require an explicit clearance. Other class B airspaces include VFR corridors through which VFR flights may pass without clearance (and without technically entering the class B airspace).”
From Wikipedia: “Class B airspace is defined around key airport traffic areas, usually airspace surrounding the busiest airports in the US according to the number of IFR operations and passengers served. The exact shape of the airspace varies from one class B area to another, but in most cases it has the shape of an inverted wedding cake, with a series of circular “shelves” of airspace of several thousand feet in thickness centered on a specific airport. Each shelf is larger than the one beneath it. Class B airspace normally begins at the surface in the immediate area of the airport, and successive shelves of greater and greater radius begin at higher and higher altitudes at greater distances from the airport. Many class B airspaces diverge from this model to accommodate traffic patterns or local topological or other features. The upper limit of class B airspace is normally 10,000 feet (3,000 m) MSL.”
Additionally, the FOIA request states:
It would be inconceivable that FAA cannot produce similar statistics. Therefore to further help the FAA find their own records, I am attaching CSV files of the 5 aftermentioned aircraft including their call sign, position, altitude, speed, and direction. I am also attaching associated KML files for easy graphical interpretation. I am also attaching files of relevant ATC communication.
Incidentally, a careful review of the position of said aircraft will reveal that at least one aircraft, Maverick N848MH, anonymously loses its Mode-S interrogation at 2017-10-02 T04:4911Z and rekindles it at 2017-10-02 T05:15:54Z. If any citations for this violation of Title 14 §91.215, or if any special waivers or agreement exist between FAA and N848MH, or its operators, it would be helpful for FAA to provide them in your reply. Furthermore, it appears that N848MH did not return immediately to McCarran as directly instructed by ATC. If the pilot of N848MH had an emergency that warranted compliance with Title 14 §91.123(c), I request proof of that compliance.
As you have now been made aware of a possible violation of Title 14 Rules, I will draw your attention to Title 14 §13.1(a) and Title 14 §13.3. To ensure compliance with Title 14 §13.1(a) and with Title 14 §13.5 in mind [redacted] copying the FAA, Office of the Chief Counsel, Enforcement Docket with this appeal.
This matter has now been discussed with numerous airline professionals and representatives of local airfields, law enforcement, as well as various military veterans with past and current flight time experience. With respect to the atrocity which occurred in Las Vegas on 1 October, 2017, the FAA and associated Inspector Generals might note that in addition to the existing SSR data and ATC data, there are also numerous instances of video taken from portable electronic devices, with appropriate timestamps, which appear to show aircraft activity where no correlating and complying S-Mode data exists. We note that if it is found that N848MH and others were in non-compliance with regulations between T04:49:11Z and T05:15:54Z, on 2017-10-02, the FAA may consider factually reviewing possible violations of Title 14 §91.15 for dropping objects, such as ballistic projectiles, upon the vulnerable crowd.
Moreover, in correspondence included with the FOIA request provided to Intellihub the filing party states they are “less than confident that a single entity can or will ensure a proper investigation into these matters” the information included in the request was also sent and copied to the following parties in addition to Intellihub:
All initial FAA contacts
The FAA FOIA Appeals Office
The FAA OIG hotline
The DoJ Criminal Divison
The DoJ Civil Rights Division
The Clark County Sheriff’s Department, Nevada
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office, Nevada
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, Arizona
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
The Oath Keepers
Other interested parties
The FBI Las Vegas Tip Line was contacted directly by telephone and webform submittal on this matter several weeks ago.
DOD OIG will be contacted directly, as well as the FAA Office of Chief Counsel.
To boot, the FOIA includes mention of an “ominous ‘4chan’ post predicting a similar atrocity three weeks before the mass murder event, significant number of witnesses alleging multiple shooters, and curious forensic evidence such as that provided in this message” and makes clear that “Americans anticipate a factually accurate conclusion into the Las Vegas shooting investigation, wherever those facts may lead.”
The FOIA repeal was marked received by the Washington D.C. FAA FOIA Appeal Section on Jan 19, 2018.
On Jan 25, 2018, the requester addressed an email “to all those at stake” which was also CC’ed to the Department of Defense (DoD), Air Force Space Command (AFSC), Nevada Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), and the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA) was sent by the FOIA requester in an attempt to reach an Air Force Inspector General. The email reads as follows:
To all those at stake:
Wanting to reach an AF IG, and not knowing precisely which if any of you are empowered or capable of looking into this, I ask that you please forgive the casting of such a wide net.
I have concerns about our homeland security, the health and safety of Americans, and possible investigative conflict of interests with respect to the mass murder atrocity which occurred in Las Vegas on 1 October 2017.
Of the rights embodied by our Constitution (that our service of men and women are sworn to protect), the right to life seems particularly important to most. 58 Americans were murdered on October 1st. Thousands more might have been. Though the FBI and LVMPD would seem to have jurisdiction and concern over the matter, DoD involvement may be required.
A look into this matter utilizing DoD informatics will ensure that the DoD’s ability to surveil the NAS, near operational centers, using direct and indirect methods, has not been compromised.
The American people ask that the full force of our Constitutional Republic be utilized to amend the atrocity which once again befell innocent citizens at home. The DoD should ensure that a comprehensive analysis is conducted of all the rotary aircraft near the Route 91 festival on October 1, 2017. This analysis should be conducted to ensure that the safety of our NAS was not compromised by our enemies, and that communication and data retrieved between DoD and FAA ATC centers has not been compromised. This concern is raised because the FAA has alleged, in an official FOIA response, that they can not find flight track on five aircraft which were spatially and temporally proximal to the mass murder at the Route 91 festival.
Please review the attached and linked documentation, forward message, and the following critical findings:
- At least three EC130 helicopters, which use low dB technology, turned off their Mode-S transponders behind the Mandalay Bay about 15 min[utes] before the shooting began.
- These aircraft were broadcasting N854MH, N858MH, and N848MH.
- During the volleys of gunfire, aircraft are visible in numerous instances of portable electronic devise recordings, where no corresponding transponder signal is provided. Some of this video shows intense bursts of light, between the Mandalay Bay and Delano Hotels, that do not correlate with navigation lights.
- Publicly available sources, such as Flight Radar24, show that these aircraft do not broadcast their altitude as required in class B airspace, and at least one appears to not to have returned to KLAS as instructed by ATC. The presence of these aircraft are corroborated by video, ATC audio, and some radar records, yet the FAA has inexplicably claimed an inability to locate the aircraft.
- Specific aircraft flight records appear to be scrubbed or purged from some resources like “FlightAware” suggesting an organized effort at coverup, but screen recordings and downloads from “FlightRadar24” as well as ATC audio, show the aircraft of concern behaving in the manner described in the provided appeal and complaint.
The FAA’s alleged inability to retrieve the record of aircraft in their own Class B airspace raises safety concerns for the NAS. As DoD is required to be able to communicate with FAA systems, as shown in various ORDs and CDDs, is it possible that DoD records have also been corrupted in this attack?
Did Nellis AFB DASR notice the presence of three aircraft in violation of Title 14 of the CFR?
With all due respect to the DoJ generally, a single portion of a single entity, such as the specific task force of the FBI assigned to the mass murder investigation, may not be sufficient to get a factual and ethical accounting of the event.
We are in a GWoT. The mass murder of civilians using belt-fed automatic weapons on a rotary aircraft functioning as a gunship over an American city would likely be constituted as terrorism by most standard definitions. If these aircraft were not used in the attack, why were lurking in the area in a covert manner? Why are there burst of light coming from them? Were they contracted aircraft? Why hasn’t FAA produced record of them? Bottom line, the matter needs to be rigorously investigated. Domestic operations which may in some way strategically benefit the Nation are one thing, but the actions in Las Vegas were overtly criminal and warrant a response, regardless of who was behind them.
It is inconceivable that NORTHCOM would not be able to ascertain the exact activities of the aftermentioned aircraft between 0430Z and 0530Z on October 2, 2017. The bizarre denial of record from the FAA regarding primary radar data of the area is gravely alarming. If the behavior of the aircraft is benign, then primary radar return would show that and ought to be produced. Meaningful information must be shared with law enforcement and legislative bodies that will ensure justice for the deceased, a true accounting to all Americans, and protection for those lucky enough to live tomorrow.
No response is requested or required, but you are welcome to contact me directly with questions if you wish
Very respectfully yours,
On February 9, 2017, the FAA’s FOIA Appeals Section replied:
I am handling your FOIA request for FAA Air Traffic Organization records related to events in Las Vegas, NV on October 1, 2017, and that FOIA request remains open while [we] are processing your request. Prior to releasing any records obtained through our search, we are required to consult with any federal law enforcement agencies, for example the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who may be handling contemporaneous criminal investigations into those same events. As such, the Federal Aviation Administration response to your FOIA request remains in the “Pending Review” status at this time. I am not able to give you an accurate timeline regarding how long this process may take. However [you] may contact me with the status of your request.
The requester responded via email on March 9, 2017. The email reads:
A new video has surfaced showing the aircraft between the hotels during the shooting. Additional rotary craft are audible during this horrible video.
I’m curious, on what basis can the FBI prevent the FAA from releasing data to the public, and why is the FAA deferring to them on the NAS matters? Do regulations require such deferment, or advise it? If it is only an advisement, then I argue it is imperative to the integrity of this nation and the lives of the dead that all radar records for the Las Vegas atrocity be released immediately to the public so that a true investigation might occur.
The details on the atrocity are vexing.
On March 22, 2018, another followup email was sent by the requester to the FAA which cited how the “statutory deadline” for determination is “20 days” after the previous request was ignored.
Following the 22 march request a response was issued by the FAA which reads:
As a status update on your request, the search records produced from your FOIA request are currently being reviewed by another federal agency. This FOIA request represents an exception to the 20-day timeline discussed in the citation provided below. The required inner-agency consultation is authorized in certain circumstances, as described within the nine FOIA withholding exemptions: https://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-guide-freedom-information-act-0. Again, I am not able to give you an accurate timeline regarding how long this process may take. However, you may contact me for updates on the status of your request.
On June 5, 2018, the FAA replied to the requester: “The information you requested is part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal law enforcement matter. Premature release of the records related to these events could hinder law enforcement investigations. Therefore, the contents of the requested files are protected from mandatory disclosure under Exemption 7(a) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552, accordingly your request is denied.”
Why would the FBI be investigating radar data more than 8 months later if there is nothing to the helicopters?
Read all about the helicopters involved in the 1 October attack here, as reported by Intellihub.