Back to Squawk list
  • 55

How to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, by the only pilot who ever did

Great story of an El Al pilot thwarting not just a hijacking in 1970 but all the bureaucratic/diplomatic complications of returning to London with a dead Muslim on board. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Not the ONLY hijacking thwarted in air. Eastern Air Lines Shuttle early 1960's. Captain Robert Wilbur after being shot in both arms, took the gun away from the hijacker and continued to hit the man and fly the plane back to BOS. The copilot had been killed and no one came forward to help Captain Wilbur, the real hero.
Navy65 2
Rick is correct about Eastern also having such a hijacking. Copilot Jim Hartley was murdered by the hijacker after which time Bob Wilbur overcame the hijacker and returned for a landing at Boston.
Yvonne Kelly 1
Fortunately they had a gun in the cockpit, or all would be dead. See:
sparkie624 3
May want to read that report a little closer.. The FO was shot without warning, then the capt was shot in the arm. After that the captain was able to take the gun from the gunman. "Hartley recovered sufficiently to rip the gun from Divivo's hand, and shoot the would-be hijacker three times...", "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". The gun in the center console was the one taken from the HiJacker in the first place.
A great story if you are looking at it from a pure hijacking perspective that was thwarted.
But, to sensationalize it by saying the aircraft returned to London "with a dead Muslim on board," only serves to generate more hate to those people. The hijacker operating on behalf of the PFLP, was a Honduran with American citizenship, not a Muslim...
preacher1 6
You have to remember this came from an 80+ year old Isralei who could have cared less. They live it first hand in that part of the world and aren't concerned about being PC. As with any group, they have a stated aim and purpose and it may be peaceful, but their radical arm is what is taking control or at least making the news right now and it is that news that people base their judgment of the whole thing. It is just like the PLO, they may talk peace, but the Hamas arm is the one they can't control and that is firing the rockets.
I don't think it was him, it was whoever was doing the reporting. I think he did a good job...
canuck44 2
Patrick Argüello, while dedicated to overthrowing the government of Nicaragua, was trained by and operated on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as he had been rejected by Sandinista National Liberation Front when he returned to his home country as they suspected him of being a CIA plant. I assume there were very few Sandinistas at the Muslim training camps in Jordan from which he was sent out. Given his PFLP ties and hijacking for their cause (not Nicaraguan), "Muslim" is good enough for me.
Aren't you a surgeon? Does labored breathing due to asthma, or breathing hard from a blockage get generalized into the same category??? Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but my point is, these days it just seems like "blame it on the Muslim..."
preacher1 2
You are probably right in that "blame it on the Muslim"is widespread and loosely used. You have heard the old saying " one aw crap will wipe out 10 atta boys". The human mind has a tendency to remember the negative. In the mid -90's, when the OKC bombing took place, rumors abounded that they were looking for "2 Arab looking guys", long before McVey was caught up with. Arabs/Muslims had nothing to do with it, BUT, at that time we weren't that far past desert storm and most folks image of Arab/Muslim folks was Sadaam Hussein. It his hard to change an image. There are a lot of peaceful Muslims but it's their radical partners that make the news and have their image ingrained in the minds of everyone else.
Steve Smith 0
It was MUSLIM terrorist same as 9/11!
preacher1 9
Too bad though that we have to be politically correct and can't PROFILE passengers for fear of offending someone. To boot, Pan-Am filed the suit against him but it is doubtful they would have done anything if he had told tem about it. As the article said, El Al has only had the 1 hijacking, their 1st and last.
Les Price 1
Should have given him the quick burial they demand and shoved him out the door over the ocean.
blueashflyer 1
awesome article.
sparkie624 1
Thanks for posting.
i5xswipe 1
Connie Kalitta did a number on a guy who held him hostage and tried to hijack one of the lears. Good story.
bbabis 2
Connie could always tell a good story. It wan't a gun but a knife is dangerous enough.
For you non believers Google Captain Robert Wilbur EAL
Great article. Its a shame that we are too worried about what others might say when incidents like this occurs. Hopefully, never again.
ADXbear -1
Sounds like more reason to not believe what's reported on the internet, though a nice story at heart, please do some fact finding.. no need to create more hatred in our world, there is plenty to go around.
preacher1 6
Story is very true. It seems that a lot of folks just can't accept the fact that at one time, some folks accepted the realities of a cruel world. There has been sin(evil) in the world since the Garden of Eden. Get used to it. Talking does not make it go away.
joel wiley 3
Good point on internet reporting. If you are interested in fact finding, there is always Google for a start.
new rule no last minute flights with dumb people on board
sparkie624 5
That would eliminate about 90% of the people flying in the US...
n111ma 0
And that's why they are the best!
bbabis 0
That was then. This is now. With today's hijackers so willing to die, it behooves us as crew to help them accomplish that desire anyway possible. MH370 may or may not be another UA Flight 93 but one of the few things I feel is certain is that the crew did not plan on going to the southern Indian Ocean that night.
preacher1 5
It does not really seem likely although there are many theories out there right now and until the FDR can be recovered, just about anything is on the table. Mechanical could account for the initial turn, as it was to a diversion airport. It can't, under normal thinking, account for that Southerly turn after crossing the peninsula, and the altitude change, if all that is accurate. I am in agreement with you on the hijackers, in that we need to assist them, regardless of what group they may belong to. At that point, it becomes self preservation rather than worrying about their ethnicity.
Just another nail in the PC coffin. Get real.

[This poster has been suspended.]

John McDowell 0
This type of post has no business being on here. This is an aviation site. If you can't remove it, the moderator should. Just another "fly by night" scam, in my opinion.
sparkie624 2
Not good to reply to these, because when the admin removes them, your post is moved to a reply on someone else and everyone wondering what you meant.. Best thing to do is to down vote them (Thumbs Down) on the Right side of the screen. at -10 they disappear until the admin deletes them.
preacher1 1
Hit the REPORT link underneath the post itself. 2 clicks and you are done. This one has been reported
sparkie624 1
Thanks.. I should have picked up on that... Will do both in the future.
joel wiley 1
It is a fairly new feature, a much welcomed one.
sparkie624 1
No, I have seen that there for quite some time, just never registered or thought about it until today...


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
This website uses cookies. By using and further navigating this website, you accept this.
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.