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The following is a list of notable aircraft hijackings around the world.


List of notable aircraft hijackings




  • Portugal 1961: aircraft forced to circle Lisbon to drop leaflets against the dictatorship that ruled the country. 6 hijackers were involved.
  • United States November 24, 1968: Luis Armando Pena Soltren, Jose Rafael Rios Cruz and Miguel Castro coerced the pilot of Pan American Flight 281 out of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on a scheduled route to Puerto Rico to divert to Havana, Cuba.[1][2] Passengers were evacuated from Cuba by a U.S. State Department aircraft. There were no fatalities.


  • United States March 17, 1970: Eastern Air Lines Shuttle Flight 1320, carrying passengers from Newark to Boston was hijacked around 7:30 P.M. by John J. Divivo who was armed with a .38 caliber revolver. Captain Robert Wilbur Jr., 35, a former Air Force pilot who had only been promoted to captain six months prior, was shot in his arm by the suicidal hijacker. With a .38 slug in his arm and bleeding profusely, he flew his aircraft safely to a landing while talking to the tower, telling them his copilot was shot (but not himself) and needed an ambulance. His copilot, First Officer James Hartley, 31, was shot without warning by Divivo and collapsed. Divivo then turned the gun on the captain, causing his arm injury. Despite being fatally wounded Hartley recovered sufficiently to rip the gun from Divivo's hand, and shoot the would-be hijacker three times before lapsing into unconsciousness, and eventually death. Although wounded and slumped between the seats, Divivo arose and began clawing at Captain Wilbur, attempting to force a crash. Wilbur hit Divivo over the head with the gun he had retrieved from the center console.[1] The pilot was able to land the plane safely at Logan International Airport, and the hijacker was arrested immediately.[2]
  • JapanSouth KoreaNorth Korea March 31, 1970: Japan Airlines Flight 351, carrying 131 passengers and 7 crew from Tokyo to Fukuoka, is hijacked by nine members of the Japanese Red Army group. 23 passengers were freed at Fukuoka Airport, mainly children or old aged. 108 passengers and all crew members with Red Army group left Fukuoka, bound for Gimpo Airport, near Seoul. Three days after, Red Army group ask to be flown to North Korean capital Pyongyang, before leaving from Seoul, 103 passenger and crew hostages are freed, and nine Red Army group members surrendered to North Korean authorities.
  • Palestinian territories September 1970: As part of the Dawson's Field hijackings, PFLP members attempted to hijack four aircraft simultaneously. They succeeded on three and forced the planes to fly to the Jordanian desert, where the hijackers blew up the aircraft after releasing most of the hostages. The final hostages were freed in exchange for seven Palestinian prisoners. The fourth attack on an El Al plane by two people including Leila Khalid was foiled by armed guards aboard.
  • IndiaPakistan January 30, 1971: Indian Airlines Fokker F27 on scheduled Srinagar-Jammu flight is hijacked to Lahore by two self-proclaimed Kashmir Separatists. All passengers were released by February 2 and repatriated to India, but the aircraft was blown-up—leading to an India-Pakistan air-travel ban, and suspension of overflight rights until 1976.
  • PhilippinesPeople's Republic of China March, 1971: Philippine Airlines flight was hijacked in March 1971 by six students from the Mindanao State University, opposed to the Marcos government. The plane landed in Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China, and the Chinese authorities let the students stay in the country. The plane was then allowed to fly back to the Philippines. No one was hurt. One of the students, Jaime FlorCruz, later became a journalist in Beijing, working for TIME magazine, and CNN.
  • Romania May 1971: an IL-14 with 4 staff members and 16 passengers was hijacked by 6 men at the Oradea Airport (Romania), then forced to flew to Budapest (Hungary), then Vienna (Austria). The passengers and the crew were released in Vienna, while the hijackers flew to West Germany.[3]
  • United States November 24, 1971: A man who became known as D. B. Cooper hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, a Boeing 727-100 aircraft flying from Portland, OR, to Seattle, WA, received US$200,000 in ransom, and parachuted from the plane. The actual name of the hijacker remains unknown. The hijacker revealed what appeared to be a bomb to a flight attendant and demanded the ransom and parachutes. The flight landed in Seattle, and FBI agents provided the ransom money and parachutes. Cooper then released all passengers and one flight attendant. After refueling, the aircraft took off again and flew toward Reno, NV. Cooper opened the aft stairs and jumped from the plane with a parachute during a heavy rainstorm. The aircraft was forced to land with the aft stairs deployed. The FBI believes Cooper most likely did not survive, but the case remains unsolved.[4][5][6]
  • United States January 12, 1972: Braniff Flight 38, a Boeing 727, was hijacked as it departed Houston, Texas bound for Dallas, Texas. The lone armed hijacker, Billy Gene Hurst, Jr., allowed all 94 passengers to deplane after landing at Dallas Love Field but continued to hold the 7 crewmembers hostage, demanding to fly to South America and asking for US $2 million, parachutes, and jungle survival gear, amongst other items. After a 6-hour standoff, the entire crew secretly fled while Hurst was distracted examining the contents of a package delivered by Dallas police. Police officers stormed the craft shortly afterwards and arrested Hurst without serious incident.[7][8]
  • United States January 28, 1972: TWA Flight 2, Los Angeles to New York, was hijacked by con man and bank robber Garrett Trapnell while over Chicago. Trapnell demanded $306,800 in cash (to recoup the loss of a recent court case), the release of Angela Davis (as well as that of a friend of his who was also imprisoned), and clemency from President Richard Nixon. The FBI was able to retake the aircraft during a crew switch at Kennedy Airport; Trapnell was shot and wounded, no one else was hurt. Trapnell's hijacking came after a string of domestic incidents and resulted in an overhaul of flight procedures by the Nixon Administration, procedures that remained in place until the September 11, 2001 hijackings.
  • United StatesCuba November 10, 1972: Southern Airways Flight 49, was hijacked by three men and flown to multiple locations in the United States, and one Canadian city. At one point, the hijackers threatened to fly the plane into the nuclear reactor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, if their demands for $10 million in cash were not met. While stopped for refueling at McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando, the FBI shot out the plane's tires, prompting the hijackers to force pilot William Haas to take off. The hijacking came to an end when the plane landed on a partially foam-covered runway in Havana, Cuba, and the hijackers were captured after attempting to escape.
  • SwedenSpain April 24, 1973: SAS DC 9 - Gunder Viking - with registration number LN-RLO on route from Torslanda, Gothenburg, Sweden, to Stockholm, Sweden, was hijacked five minutes after take off by 3 armed Croatian terrorists connected to Ustasja. The plane was ordered to land at Bulltofta airport, Malmö, Sweden. 86 passengers and 4 crew members were held hostage until the next morning when the hostage were released in exchange for 500 000 Swedish Kronor and seven Croatian terrorists imprisoned in Sweden. The last passenger could leave the plane unharmed after 16 hours. The plane and crew was then ordered to fly to Madrid, Spain, where the hijackers later were to be put on trial.
  • Soviet Union April 24, 1973: The hijacking attempt of Aeroflot Tu-104 flying from Leningrad to Moscow. When flight attendant tried to disarm the hijacker, the bomb detonated killing both and causing the decompression. The crew made an emergency landing in Leningrad, the plane was written off.[9]
  • Soviet Union May 18, 1973: Another hijacking attempt of Aeroflot Tu-104 flying from Irkutsk to Chita. The terrorist demanded the plane be diverted to China. The bomb detonated and the plane crashed near Lake Baikal killing all 82 people onboard.[10]
  • United StatesCanadaIcelandFrance 1976: TWA Flight 355 was hijacked by Croatian separatists. Some passengers were allowed to deplane in Canada before the hijackers continued on to Iceland, then France, where they released the remaining passengers and surrendered to authorities. One New York police officer was killed while working on a bomb which the hijackers had planted at Grand Central Station.
Lufthansa Flight 181 at Mogadishu, Somalia on October 18, 1977.
  • PolandEast Germany August 30, 1978: LOT Polish Airlines Flight 165 was hijacked by two East Germans in order to escape to West Berlin. There were no casualties, the hijackers surrendered and were tried by never-before-convened United States Court for Berlin.
  • Finland September 30, 1978: Finnair Flight 405[11] was hijacked by Aarno Lamminparras; the flight was en route from Oulu to Helsinki. He requested a ransom of 675,000 markka, which he received, and as a result he released all 44 passengers on board. Then he ordered the plane to fly him to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and then back to Oulu. He returned home and was arrested there the next day. He served seven years and one month in prison and now lives in Sweden.[12] One of the passengers on board the hijacked plane was singer Monica Aspelund.[11]


  • Pakistan 1981: A Pakistan International Airlines jet is hijacked and taken to Kabul, where one passenger is killed before the plane flies on to Damascus; the hostages are finally released after 13 days when the Pakistani Government agrees to free fifty political prisoners.
  • Indonesia 1981: The Hijacking of Flight Garuda Indonesia GA 206 on March 28, 1981. This was the first serious Indonesian airline hijacking, since the first case was a desperate Marine hijacker who was killed by the pilot himself. The hijackers, a group called Commando Jihad, hijacked the DC 9 "Woyla", onroute from Palembang to Medan, and ordered the pilot to fly the plane to Colombo, Sri Lanka. But since the plane didn't have enough fuel, it refueled in Penang, Malaysia and then to Don Muang, Thailand. The hijackers demanded the release of Commando Jihad members imprisoned in Indonesia, and US $ 1.5 million, as well as a plane to take those prisoners to an unspecified destination. The Kopassus commandos who took part in this mission trained for only three days with totally unfamiliar weapons, brilliantly executed this fast-paced operation. One of the Kopassus commandos was shot by the hijacker leader, who then shot himself. All the other hijackers were killed. All the hostages were saved.[citation needed]
  • Republic of Ireland 1981: An Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to London was hijacked and diverted to Le Touquet in France by a man demanding that the Pope release the third secret of Fatima. While authorities negotiated with the hijacker by radio in the cockpit, French special forces entered the rear of the aircraft and overpowered him.
  • Kuwait February 1982: An Kuwait Airways flight, KU561 from Kuwait to Libya via Beirut on the return was hijacked on the ground at Beirut airport in Beirut in Lebanon by Hamza akl Hamieh demanding news and release of Imam Musa al Sadr, who had disappeared in Libya in 1978. The Captain Les Bradley flew the damaged plane back to Kuwait after Hamza and his colleagues left the plane, disappearing into the night, leaving a warning for Kuwait Airways to drop the Kuwait Libya Beirut Kuwait route. There were no casualties.
  • India August 22, 1982: A lone Sikh militant, armed with a pistol and a hand grenade, hijacked a Indian Airlines on a scheduled flight from Mumbai to New Delhi carrying 69 persons. Indian security forces killed the hijacker and rescued all passengers. Peter Lamont, production designer working on the James Bond film Octopussy, was a passenger.
  • India August 24, 1984: Seven young Sikh hijackers demanded an Indian Airlines jetliner flying from Delhi to Srinagar[13] be flown to the United Arab Emirates. The plane was taken to UAE where the defense minister of UAE negotiated the release of the passengers. It was related to the Sikh secessionist struggle in the Indian state of Punjab.
  • Soviet Union March 8, 1988: Ovechkin family (a mother and her 10 children) attempted to hijack a Tu 154 flight from Irkutsk to Leningrad while trying to escape from the USSR. The plane landed on a military airfield near Vyborg and was then stormed. A stewardess and three passengers were killed. The mother was killed by one of her sons by her own request, then four of them committed suicide.


Still shots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 ditching in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros Islands on November 23, 1996.
  • People's Republic of China 1990: Hijackers seized a plane from the People's Republic of China which later crashed as it tried to land in Guangzhou (aka Canton), killing 128 people.
  • Germany February 11, 1993: Lufthansa Flight 592 scheduled service from Frankfurt to Cairo and Addis Ababa, was hijacked at gunpoint by Nebiu Demeke, an Ethiopian man. The A310 initially flew to Hannover for fuel before flying to New York's JFK where the hijacker surrendered after brief negotiations. No passengers or crew were injured or killed.
  • India 1993:Two separate hijackings of Indian Airlines aircraft to Amritsar, Punjab, India in the month of April. In the first case the hijacker was talked into surrendering; in the second, the Commandos stormed in and killed the sole hijacker. The Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Karan Bir Singh Sidhu was conferred the Convoy Safe Skies Award.
  • NorwayRussia 1993: Russian Aeroflot passenger jet flying from Perm to Moscow diverted to Gardermoen airport by two Iranian brothers. Hijackers surrendered and hostages went free. The hijackers were later given asylum in Norway for humanitarian reasons.
  • Palestinian territories 1996: Hemus Air Tu-154 aircraft was hijacked by the Palestinian Nadir Abdallah, flying from Beirut to Varna. The hijacker demanded that the aircraft be refuelled and given passage to Oslo, Norway after landing at Varna Airport. All of the 150 passengers were freed at Varna, afterwards the crew continued the flight to Oslo.
  • Ethiopia 1996: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 crashed into the Indian Ocean near a beach in the Comoros Islands after hijackers refused to allow the pilot to land and refuel the plane. 125 passengers died and the remaining 50 passengers survived with minor injuries. This is only the third incident in which there were survivors of a passenger jet that had been intentionally ditched into a body of water.
  • Malta 1997: Two men who hijacked an Air Malta aircraft en route from Malta to Turkey on June 9, 1997 surrendered to police at Cologne airport early on the same day and freed without incident about 80 crew members and passengers on board.
  • IndiaAfghanistanPakistan 1999-2000: Pakistan-based terrorists hijack Indian Airlines Flight 814 and divert it to Kandahar. After a week-long stand-off India agrees to release three jailed Pakistani terrorists in exchange for the hostages. 1 hostage was stabbed to death and his body thrown on the tarmac as a "warning attack".


United Airlines Flight 93 wreckage at the crash site in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
  • RussiaIsrael 2000, 11 November: an Vnukovo Airlines Tu-154 flying from Makhachkala to Moscow was hijacked by a man demanding it be diverted to Israel. The plane landed at an Israeli military base where hijacker surrendered. None of 59 people onboard were injured.[14]
  • RussiaTurkeySaudi Arabia 2001, 15 March: another Vnukovo Airlines Tu-154 flying from Istanbul to Moscow was hijacked by a three Chechen terrorists demanding it be diverted to Saudi Arabia. After the plane with 174 people onboard landed at Medina the terrorist threatened to blow it up unless it would be refuelled for flying to Afghanistan. The Saudi authorities decided to storm the plane. During the assault 3 people were killed by Saudi police: one of the passengers (Turkish citizen), the stewardess Yulia Fomina (later the plane was named after her) and the leader of the terrorists.[15]
  • United States 2001: September 11 attacks, eastern USA: 19 terrorists hijacked American Airlines flights 11 and 77, and United Airlines flights 93 and 175[citation needed]. The four heavily-fuelled aircrafts were used as missiles to attack targets of economic, military, and political significance in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Two of the planes, UA175 and AA11 were crashed into New York City's twin towers of the World Trade Center, destroying the entire complex and killing 2,998 people. In Washington, D.C., AA77 was crashed into the Pentagon, causing massive destruction to the side of the building facing Arlington National Cemetery and resulting in over 100 deaths. Another attack on the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was averted when passengers intervened and UA93 crashed into a field, but all those on the aircraft perished.
    This marked a landmark in hijacking: the first successful hijacking where the intention was to destroy the aircraft and passengers, and use the fueled aircraft as a missile to destroy ground targets. It also marked a landmark in responses to the threat of hijacking: until then the recommended response was for the crew to obey the hijackers' demands so as to safeguard the passengers and buy time; after this the policy was more about preventing access to the cockpit and pilots, and aggressive responses. From this time air passengers worldwide were prohibited from having anything remotely like a bladed weapon in the passenger cabin: scissors, tweezers, nailfiles, etc.[citation needed]
  • Turkey 2006: Turkish Airlines Flight 1476, flying from Tirana to Istanbul, was hijacked in Greek airspace. The aircraft, with 107 passengers and six crew on board, transmitted two coded hijack signals which were picked up by the Greek air force; the flight was intercepted by military aircraft and landed safely at Brindisi, Italy.
  • Northern Cyprus 2007: an Atlasjet MD-80 en route from Nicosia to Istanbul was hijacked by two Arab students, who said they were Al Qaeda operatives, one trained in Afghanistan, and wanted to go to Tehran, Iran. The plane landed in Antalya, the passengers escaped and the hijackers were arrested.[17]
  • Sudan 2008: a Sun Air Boeing 737 flying from Nyala, Darfur, in Western Sudan to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, was hijacked shortly after takeoff. The hijackers demanded to be taken to France where they reputedly wanted to gain asylum. The plane initially tried to land at Cairo but was refused permission. It subsequently touched down at Kufra, Libya. The hijackers gave themselves up almost 24 hours after taking the plane. There were no reported casualties.
  • Jamaica 2009: CanJet Flight 918, a Boeing 737-800 preparing to depart from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica to Cuba was hijacked by a gunman who forced his way through airport security onto the plane. His main motive was a demand to the crew to fly him to Cuba. Most of the passengers on the plane gave him money to buy their freedom. For the rest of the night, negotiations took place as 6 crew members were held hostage in the flight for several hours. Quick responses from the police force allowed them to disarm the hijacker and arrest him. There were no casualties.
  • Mexico 2009: AeroMéxico Flight 576, a Boeing 737-800 flying from Cancún to Mexico City was hijacked by José Marc Flores Pereira, a Bolivian citizen claiming he had a bomb and demanding to speak to Mexican president Felipe Calderón. The plane landed at Mexico City International Airport where it then taxied to a remote stand where the passengers and crew were later released. Mexican officials stormed the plane where 5 men were taken into custody with only 1 being held. There were no casualties.

See also


  1. ^ Tristani, Captain, Eastern Air Lines (ret), J.P. (March 30, 2009). "One heck of an in-air gunfight on a civilian jet". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  2. ^ Walker, Adrian (March 20, 2009). "Friends in high places". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  3. ^ Marea deturnare: avion românesc răpit la Oradea
  4. ^ "FBI makes new bid to find 1971 skyjacker". Associated Press. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  5. ^ Krajicek, David. "The D.B. Cooper Story: 'Everything Is Ready'". Crime Library. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  6. ^ Pasternak, Douglas (2000-07-24). "Skyjacker at large". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  7. ^ Jim Ewell and Tom Williams (1972-01-13). "Braniff Hijacker Taken as Police Storm Plane". The Dallas Morning News. 
  8. ^ Tom Johnson (1972-01-13). ""Keep Him Going," Dispatcher Offers". The Dallas Morning News. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Tämä kone on kaapattu
  12. ^ 1978 airplane hijacking information (in Finnish) from
  13. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-2A8 Lahore, Karachi, Dubai
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Passengers overpower plane hijacker in Spain's Canary Islands, suspect arrested -
  17. ^ Pilots and passengers foil hijacking of Turkish jet - International Herald Tribune


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