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The flight was carrying 246 passengers and 23 crew members.

After refueling at Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, the aircraft, piloted on this leg of the journey by captain Chun Byung-in, first officer Son Dong-hui and Flight Engineer Kim Eui-dong, Twelve passengers occupied the upper deck first class, while in business almost all of 24 seats were taken; in economy class, approximately 80 seats did not contain passengers.

If, however, the plane was more than 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from the flight-planned course line when the pilot turned the autopilot mode selector from HEADING to INS, the plane would continue to track the heading selected in HEADING mode as long as the actual position of the plane was more than 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from the programmed INS course line.

The autopilot computer software commanded the INS mode to remain in the "armed" condition until the plane had moved to a position less than 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from the desired course line.

The VOR/LOC mode maintained the plane on a specific course, transmitted from a VOR (VHF omnidirectional range, a type of short-range radio signal transmitted from ground beacons) or Localizer (LOC) beacon selected by the pilot.

The ILS (instrument landing system) mode caused the plane to track both vertical and lateral course beacons, which led to a specific runway selected by the pilot.

One hundred and thirty passengers planned to connect to other destinations such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei. president Richard Nixon was to have been seated next to Larry Mc Donald on KAL 007 but that the CIA warned him not to go, according to the New York Post and Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS); this was denied by Nixon.At 28 minutes after takeoff, civilian radar at Kenai Peninsula on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet and with radar coverage 175 miles (282 km) west of Anchorage, tracked KAL 007 5.6 miles (9.0 km) north of where it should have been.When KAL 007 did not reach Bethel at 50 minutes after takeoff, a military radar at King Salmon, Alaska, tracked KAL 007 at 12.6 nautical miles (23.3 km) north of where it should have been.United States Congressman Larry Mc Donald from Georgia, who at the time was also the second president of the conservative John Birch Society, was on the flight. After taking off from Anchorage, the flight was instructed by air traffic control (ATC) to turn to a heading of 220 degrees.Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Senator Steve Symms of Idaho, and Representative Carroll Hubbard of Kentucky were aboard sister flight KAL 015, which flew 15 minutes behind KAL 007; they were headed, along with Mc Donald on KAL 007, to Seoul, South Korea, in order to attend the ceremonies for the thirtieth anniversary of the U. Approximately 90 seconds later, ATC directed the flight to "proceed direct Bethel when able".

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