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Airline hijackings - 1970s
By: Haleigh Stovall, Shelby Scherdt, Brie Hayter, and Alex Storey
• Terrorism became common practice in the 70’s by international guerrilla groups
• dozens of airliners hijacked and flown elsewhere to bargain for hostage/prisoner release; many blown up
• government begins to take safety measures, such as security checks
An airline hijacking is where a person or group of people take over an aircraft by force, threatening to do damage. Airline hijacking is also called Skyjacking and skypiracy (Britten). Most hijackings take people hostage and hold them for ransom (Dungdale-Pointon). Hijackings are also done for publicity and political impact (Britten). Airline Hijacking has completely changed the way airlines and airports have operated. This all began from the first airline hijacking in the U.S.A. occurred in 1961 (
The number of airline hijackings since 1961 has rose and lowered. That number continued to rise throughout the seventies and even into the early eighties. By learning the hijack's history we can improve the system today to make it safer for the citizens of the United States of America. For instance, before airline hijackings began, airports had little to no security to prevent hijackings (Dungdale- Pointon). Security in airports stated in late 1960's when several serious hijackings occurred. In 1972 all airlines were forced to check/search all passengers and their carry on bags. After 9/11, every passenger was searched and must show identity. As you can see, airline hijacking has a huge impact on our nations security and culture.
In the 1960's over 40 hijackings attepted to get to cuba or back into the U.S. That continued until 1973 where either America or Cuba could get an
of the hijacker. Also, in 1961 the united States made hijacking airplanes a federal crime, "Under the Aircraft Piracy Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 32), the attempted or successful execution of the following actions is considered hijacking: damaging an aircraft; placing or bringing a destructive device or substance on an aircraft; damaging or interfering with an air navigation facility, or equipment and property used in connection with the operation of an aircraft; committing an act of violence against or otherwise injuring an individual on an aircraft; or making threats or statements that they know are false against or about the safety of an aircraft that is already in flight," (
One example of an extreme hijacking in 1970 was by the Palestine Commentos. They managed to hijack four planes at once, "The four planes were hijacked by Palestine commandos who demanded the release of all guerillas held in Israel, West Germany, Switzerland and Britain. The passengers were held hostage for almost a week before they were released and the demands of the hijackers were met." (
Events of 1970)
. One witness testified saying he was held at gun point in front of the plane because they didnt believe he was an American citizen because he had been in Israel for two weeks. Another witness testified that they had three minutes to evacuate before they blew up the plane, with people still aboard. While the other three planes were blown up, the still alive prisoners were held hostage for a week until the hijackers demands were fulfilled.
The Palestine Commentos terrorist got the most attention in the 70's by hijacking planes (Wilson 17). Another example of the Palestinian Terrorists was in November 1972, 3 Americans with pistols and hand grenades hijacked Flight 49 Southern Airline. The pilot was forced to fly to Oak Ridge Tennessee. Here they flew by a nuclear reactor and was forced to head straight for the reactor pulling up only when the airport said they would give the hijackers 2 million dollars. Fortunately the hijackers were later caught in Cuba and were sent to prison, (73). The Palestine Terrorists did not only hijacking planes in America. At the
the Palestinian Terrorists hijacked planes and killed eleven Isreali athletes (17).
Another example of a airline hijacking was on November 10,1972. On southern airways at gate DC-9, a flight from Birmingham to Montgomery Alabama, that carried 31 people (Britten). After take of three men got up with guns, and demanded 10 million dollars or they would crash the plane on the nuclear energy plant in Tennessee(Britten). The hijackers had control of the plane around 23 hours and a total of 4000 miles but they only managed to get 2 million dollars from the many airports they landed at(Britten). When the plane landed in a Florida airport the FBI shot at the airplane wheels but they didn't do it enough and the plane was able to take off again, then the pilot landed the plane in a foam runway in Havana ,
, where Cubans got the hijackers off the plane (Britten).
Airline Hijacking did not only effect our countries safety but our countries culture as well. The movie
was made in 1970 as a way for public to know about hijacking and as a money maker. This movie tells the story of the 1970 Palestinian group who attacked four planes at once, (mentioned above). "In telling this dramatic and complicated story, award-winning producer Ilan Ziv interviews leaders of the P.F.L.P., militants who carried out the attack,
who covered the hijackings,
and passengers. More than just recounting the events of those
tense September days
production examines how and when Middle East militants began to see civilians as legitimate pawns in their struggles for self-determination." (
More About the movie Hijacked
Between 1968 - 1969 there was a massive rise in hijackings.
Between years 1948 and 1957 there was 15 hijackings. Between years 1958 and 1967 there was 48 hijackings. Between years 1968 and 1977 there was 414 hijackings. Between years 1978 and 1987 there was 260 hijackings. Between years 1988 and 1997 there was 180 hijackings. In 1968 there was 38 hijackings. In 1969 there was 82 hijackings. In 1970 there was 74 hijackings. In 1971 there was 55 hijackings. In 1972 there was 56 hijackings. In 1973 there was 22 hijackings. In 1974 there was 20 hijackings. In 1975 there was 19 hijackings. In 1976 there was 20 hijackings. In 1977 there was 28 Hijackings.
Security procedures where made in the late 1960's.
Hijacking has declined since its top of 385 in years 167 till 1976.
Prior to the 1970's there had been no security arrangements to stop hijackings from happening.
In September of 1970 there was an attempted hijacking by 4 people, two were Americans, destroyed 3 airplanes in Jordan and Egypt.
In 1972 only 10 out of 31 attempted hijackings worked.
In the 1970's most people who skyjacked went to jail from 15 years to life.
New Flight Regulations because of hijackings
Trans world and American Airlines will check bags before the flight leaves.
In February, German officials gave hijackers $5 million to free the passengers on plane unharmed.
In June, a hijacker parachuted out over Indiana from American Airlines plane with $502,000.
In June, Pilots in 30 different countries went on strike because of all the hijackings.
American Airlines and TWA hope that the program they made will help not have so many hijackings and hope the feared passengers will fly again.
Airlines screen luggage and people for weapons and there are
on all flights.
Commercial aircraft pilots now have the option to carry a pistol.
Events of the 1970's
Four airplanes were hijacked by Palestine commandos
The Palestine commandos would demand for the release of ALL guerillas in Israel, West Germany, Switzerland and Britain
The demands for the hijackers grew until ALL of their requirements were met
They held the airplane's passengers for about one week until they were finally released
There were many threats made from the hijackers to the passengers. The hijackers did this in order to achieve their goals; and they didn't stop until they got everything they wanted.
Unknown Speaker 3: "Did they threaten you personally?"
Unknown Speaker 1: "Yeah."
Unknown Speaker 3: "What exactly did they say?"
Unknown Speaker 1: "Well, they put a gun to my head and a grenade in my face, and they said they were going to kill me."
That is just one example of someone who was threatened on an airplane but surprisingly, and thankfully lived to tell us!
Britten, Loretta\ Mathless, Paul.
Time of Transitions: the 70's.
Time-Life Books. Alexandria, Virginia. 1998. Print.
Summary: This book gives SkyJacking information from the 1970's, and only the 70's. In the book it tells you how the airline hijacking happened and then it tells you one of the best known examples and about the people that did the skyjacking.
Assess: The book gives useful information and real facts on how skyjacking took place in the 1970's. One problem though is that the book talks more about example than about what it is.
Reflect: I will use this source to talk about an example of Skyjacking and for some facts, i will also use it to reference people who skyjacked.
Cuban Information Archives.
National Advisory Committee.1998. Web. 5/22/11.
Summary: This website has all of the terrorism in Cuba listed, and a lot of the airplane hijacking stopped in Cuba, so thin site has the different hijacking that happened in the U.S.
Assess: This website gives alot of information but it's not that thorough. It shows all the things that happened from 1965-1976, and it is listed by year and month.
Reflect: I will use this information to reference different airplane Hijacking that happened in the 1970's and to find examples of the hijackings. The site also has a summary of every event that they put on their site.
. Norwich University,6/14/05.web.5/10/11. (For reference
Summary: This website explains what airline hijacking is. It tells us how it happens, why the hijackers do it, what its for, how pilots avoid hijackings, and how airport security has changed since the start of the hijacking.
Assess:We know the information is true because at the bottom of the website, they site a book called
This shows that they are not just making up the info or just telling the story. This shows that they are using exact information from the book.
Reflect: I will use this information to give the reader a solid based story on how the airline hijacking movement affected others and what exactly happened there. Also to tell others what to do and what not to do in a hijacking type situation.
Event of 1970.
UPI.com. 1970.Web. 5/14/11. (For Reference:
Summary: This is an article with an announcer and witnesses talking about there experience in the hijacking of 1970. This gives me quotes and explains how each witness felt.
Assess: This information is very basic, there is not much detail and there are unknown names for the witnesses so i will only use this website for quotes and basic information. But I know this is reliable information because it is run by UPI, a journalist company that has been runing for 100 years.
Reflect: I can use this information for quotes and basic info because there is not much detail.
. Net Industries.web.5/10/11. (For reference:
Summary: This website tells the history of Hijacking in the United States. This website also has a lot of good facts and statistics to make the story feel more alive.
Assess: This information is good and true, you can tell by the amount of back up that the author uses to prove to the reader that everything that they read is true. Using dates and numbers also improves the papers accuracy and makes it more interesting.
Reflect: I will use this source to show the history of airline hijackings to start the reader with a basic knowledge of what was going on in the 1960's and 1970's. I will also use this website for basic definitions, facts, and statistics.
New World Encyclopedia.19/2/2010. Web. 10/5/2011. (For reference:
Summary: This website has a lot of information about different kinds of hijacking. It talks about Airline hijacking in general and how it works, not just how it was in the 1970's.
Assess: The information is good. The website go by the terms of Creative Commons CC-by-SA 3.0 license, saying that there sources are all cited and that they are all from real sources. All of the information About hijacking comes from books.
Reflect: I can use this source to find information about how a hijacking takes place and different facts about it. I can also use it to find different statistics. This would be a good source to find information about hijacking in general.
More About the Film Hijacked
. PBS.Web.5/11/11. (For reference:
Summary: This website is a summary of the 1970 movie
This website tells us about the culture of airline hijacking and tells us what america has done to try to stop it.
Assess:This website is thorough because it shows links to help us understand more about the topic. Although this article is short we can easily grab the culture effects from the website and the links it has gave us.
Reflect: We will use this website to prove how airline hijacking has transformed airlines today, how it has improved today's safety, and how it effected our culture.
PLANE HIJACKING: IN PERSPECTIVE
. South Asia Analysis Group. 1/2/00. Web. 5/11/11.
Summary: This tells you about the different amount of hijackings all over the world form different times. That there are two different kinds of hijackings. Also that hijackings were used by many people as a weapon.
Assess: This website is very useful and tells you a lot about what some people used it for and that it is mainly used as a weapon. It also says things about the different kinds of hijackings with in the 1970's and years before and after.
Reflect: I would use this source to show people that hijackings aren't good and that they have gone up and down over the years but with the new technology you are safer than you would be 40, 50 or 60 years ago.
Take Ten Years 1970s
. Steck- Vaughn Company. Keyprot, NJ. 1994. Print.
Summary: It provides information about hijackings and how we have to change ways to have less hijackings. Also to have less people be so afraid of flying.
Assess: This is information is good because it talks about how many hijackings have been happening and a few of the different incidents that happened.
Reflect: I might use this source because it talks about different incidents that have happened but it is useful. It helps make things better with people having to fly and not getting hijacked as easily.
. Greenhaven Press. Farmington Hills.2009.Print.
Summary: The information from this source doesn't have much quantity wise but it has good quality information. And I can use this information to add detail to my writing.
Assess: I know this information is true because it is a book source. All book sources go through tons odf editing and publishing process so I can know that the information here is true.
Reflect: I will use this source for information on examples of hijackings and the history of the Paletines Terrorists.
"1970 year in review."
United Press International.
1970. Web. 2011.
Summary: This website is basically a bunch of interviews from hostages that were held on the airplanes that were hijacked. It shows the perspective from their point of views, while still telling us details about what happened to them.
Assess: This is very useful because it has information from real people. It has no lies or exaggerations because they only say what happened to them during these events. If they were shot in the chest, then they would say that.
Reflect: I would use this source to show people what it was like to have to go through these events. So that everyone knew what these hostages went through and then they would try to make sure these things never happened again.
Britten, Loretta/ Mathless, Paul.
Time of Transitions: the 70's.
Time-Life Books. Alexandria, Virginia. 1998. Print.
Summary: This book didn't have a lot of information, but the info that it included was good. It talks about the 70's, hence the name, and it goes into great detail about the hijackers themselves.
Assess: This book had some really good information, and went into good details. Although it did lack some info. I think that the section on "Skyjacking" could have been longer.
Reflect: I would use this source to get examples on what kind of people were hijackers.
Cuban Information Archives: Document 0180
1998. Web. 2008.
Summary: This website tells us a lot about the different happenings in Cuba. It is a huge time line that includes things about the hijackings.
Assess: This site has some really good information about hijackings in Cuba. Although it does not go into great depth about anything.
Reflect: I would use this website to give examples of different hijackings in Cuba, or on the way to Cuba.
Reflections and Conclusions
I feel that this issue is very serious and needs to be delt with soon. Over 3,500 people have died from airline hijackings in the past forty years, (Dungdale-Pointon), and even more have been injured, kidnapped or threatened. This nonsense needs to be stopped. The only way that is possible if we bump up airline security, it may be expensive and a pain but we will save many lives by keeping air travel safe. During research I realized how common and dangerous this issue is. While completing this activity I had questions asking how many people die from this, and how common this has happened. While taking notes and researching I learned that this issue is very common and is and act of terrorism (
). One question I still have is what is our government doing to stop this issue, besides airline security. I also wonder how many people are even aware of this issue going on. This issue is serious and needs to be dealt with soon.
I believe that over the year airplane security has become a lot better, today you don't hear about as many airplane hijackings. I think that the Airplane hijacking on September,11, 2001 that killed so many people made the government really boost up security and made airplane a lot more safe. Airplanes are also more safe now because new technology. I wonder if hijacking will become more impossible in the future.
I have many of the same questions about this topic. I have looked all over the internet to try and find out about the new developments on airline security, but i can't find any good sources. Many people have died throughout the past from poor airline security and hijackings, but I really hope that the government can keep us safe for as long as possible. Although the government is hopefully trying to improve on the airline security issues, they have indeed improved since 9/11/01. They have made it a great deal harder for anyone to sneak through the security lines. Whenever you go to the airport now a days, you have to go through passport checks, full body scanning metal detectors, and your limited to a certain amount of liquid to carry onto a plane. The liquid limits are because many hijackers would create bombs with all liquids. So now you can only have so much. So hopefully from now to the future, we can all be safe and free from box cutters, liquid bombs, and just plain old hijackers in general.
Summary: This doesn't take place in the 1970's but it is a very good story. It talks about how a plane to make an emergency landing in the water because they were hijacked and didn't have enough fuel to make it to where the hijackers wanted to go.
Assess: This information is good because it tells you about a way to help save lives but then at the same time what it does is shows you how to kind of respond to something like it happening.
Reflect: This source is useful because you can kind of know what might be a good idea if you were in a hijacked plane. Also that you can know that there are other ways besides crashing in to a building or the ground that could save lives.
9-6-1970 MULTIPLE PLANES HIJACKED: Click here
Summary: This is a video about a hijacking that occurred on September 6, 1970. It tells the story about what had occurred on this date, and who was involved.
Assess: This information is great because it talks about what occurred on September 6, 1970 and who was involved.
Reflect: This source is useful because it actually has a hijacker telling her experience and what she had felt and thought that day of the hijacking.
Airline Hijacking Still Happens in the United States
Some images may be disturbing.
The World Trade Center attack in 2001 is one example of current airline hijackings in the U.S. today. This information shows us how serious airline hijacking is and why we need to stop it. Information is true because you can see the amount of different videos combined and the video maker cites his
sources on the web
. A question I still have is what was the death toll? We can use this video to show how hijacking still happens and to prove the problem is not yet solved.
. World Trade Center Attacks.
Youtube.com. 12/14/06. Web. 5/14/11.
Police unit surround airplane for a anti-hijacking drill in China
Doing drills helps prevent airplane hijacking and makes everyone more prepared.
Britten, Loretta Mathless, Paul. Time of Transitions: the 70's. Time-Life Books. Alexandria, Virginia. 1998. Print.
Cuban Information Archives: Document 0180. 1998. Web. 2008.
Cuban Information Archives. National Advisory Commitee.1998. Web. 5/22/11.
Dungdale-Pointon. Hijacking. Norwich University,6/14/05.web.5/10/11.
Event of 1970. UPI.com. 1970.Web. 5/14/11.
Hijacking-Airplane Hijacking. Net Industries.web.5/10/11.
Hijacking. New World Encyclopedia.19/2/2010. Web. 10/5/2011.
More About the Film Hijacked. PBS.Web.5/11/11.
Ramon, B. PLANE HIJACKING: IN PERSPECTIVE. South Asia Analysis Group. 1/2/00. Web. 5/11/11.
Smith, Adam. World Trade Center Attacks.Youtube.com. 12/14/06. Web. 5/14/11.
Twist, Clint. Take Ten Years 1970s. Steck- Vaughn Company. Keyprot, NJ. 1994. Print.
Wilson, Mike. Terrorism. Greenhaven Press. Farmington Hills. 2009.Print.
"1970 year in review." United Press International. 1970. Web. 2011.
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