Air Force officer, missing for 35 years, found in California

Hughes was 33 years old and worked on classified planning and analysis of NATO's control, command and communications surveillance systems during the Cold War.

He had been sent to the Netherlands July 18, 1983, to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers and was due back in Albuquerque on August 1, the Air Force said.

Hughes was taken into custody by special agents from the Travis Air Force Base and is being held at the military base.

William Howard Hughes Jr. vanished in 1983 after returning from duty in Europe and withdrawing almost $30,000 from his bank account. He was officially declared a deserter by the Air Force on December 9 of that year. However, on June 6, Hughes was found and arrested in California.

"Capt. Hughes claimed that in 1983 he was depressed about being in the Air Force so he left, created the fictitious identity of O'Beirne and has been living in California ever since".

According to the OSI, Hughes had "Top Secret / Single Scope Background Investigation clearance" at the time of his disappearance with access with U.S. Secret and NATO Secret information.

In the years after Hughes went missing, a slew of NASA catastrophes, such as the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986, as well as the explosion of the Ariane rocket in French Guinea, caused national security commentators to speculate whether the disasters were related and possibly the result of Soviet sabotage. On Aug. 1, 1983, he was supposed to return to work at Kirkland, but never turned up.

William Howard Hughes Jr. allegedly deserted the Air Force in July 1983 after coming back from temporary duty in Western Europe, the Air Force said.

TaskandPurpose reported Hughes' vehicle being found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home in the 1900 block of Chandelle Loop NE revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return.

Told one of Hughes' three sisters at the time, 'We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily'.

Last week, almost 35 years after he went missing, the Air Force finally found Hughes living in California under the fictitious name "Barry O'Beirne".

But Card said no classified information leaks are suspected, nor is there an indication that Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union, but the investigation is ongoing. He faces up to five years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay and dishonorable discharge from the Air Force.

After Hughes disappeared, his vehicle was found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return, the Albuquerque Journal said.