Airline hijackings, often associated with intense drama and sometimes bizarre circumstances, have made their mark in aviation history. From copycats of infamous skyjackers to unconventional thwarting methods, these incidents range from deadly serious to almost comical. Here are five crazy facts about airline hijackings that might just leave you amazed or bewildered:
1. The D.B. Cooper Effect: Following the infamous D.B. Cooper hijacking, there were five subsequent copycat hijackers who used similar tactics. Remarkably, all five managed to survive their parachute jumps, leading the FBI to question their initial assumption that Cooper perished during his escapade.
2. Swiss Air Force’s “Off Hours” Response: In 2014, a peculiar situation unfolded over Switzerland’s skies. A hijacked plane required interception, but the incident occurred outside of the Swiss Air Force’s operational hours. As a result, Italy and France had to dispatch their jets to intervene, highlighting the surprising limitation in Switzerland’s defense protocols.
3. Clever Communication Saves the Day: In a 2007 incident involving a Mauritanian flight, quick thinking by the pilot saved the day. Announcing a “bumpy landing” over the PA system in French – a language the hijacker didn’t understand – the pilot signaled passengers to overpower the hijacker, who was caught off guard.
4. Routine Detours to Cuba: During the 1960s and 70s, hijackings from the USA to Cuba became so commonplace that pilots were provided with specific detour flight plans. The situation even led to the serious consideration of constructing a fake “Havana airport” in South Florida to deceive hijackers.
5. Norway’s Thirsty Hijacker: In 1985, Norway experienced its first plane hijacking. The perpetrator, an alcoholic, hijacked the plane after consuming all of its beer stock and proceeded to demand more beer as a ransom for the passengers.
Each of these incidents adds a unique chapter to the history of airline hijackings, blending the gravity of aviation security with elements of human unpredictability and ingenuity.