Published: 1970
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Announcer: To hijack one airplane is quite a feat. To hijack four planes, then, would have to be considered almost impossible. But in 1970, it was done.

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.

When they finally arrived in the United States, the passengers recalled their ordeal.

Unknown Speaker: "I was held hostage in the front of the plane by the Arabs. They wouldn't believe that I was an American citizen, because they saw my passport that I was in Israel two weeks before. They thought I was connected with the Israeli military, and I was held at gunpoint in front of the ship."

Unknown Speaker 1: "And when did you first realize something was wrong in it?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "Well, when they made an announcement that they wanted all the first-class passengers to move to the rear of the plane."

Unknown Speaker 1: "And what other instructions did the hijackers give to you?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "Well, then they were told that we were being hijacked to Beirut, which we, we originally were, and everyone was to remain calm and do exactly what they said."

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."

Unknown Speaker 4: "I landed at the airport, we got off, and like they told the captain that we had three minutes to evacuate; but like I didn't, I think there were still a couple of people on board when they blew the, they blew the front part of the plane up. They had dynamited the they had dynamite all over the front and the back of the plane. They brought on 20 kilos of plastic dynamite or something in Beirut."

Unknown Speaker 5: "How long were you out of the plane before they blew it up?"

Unknown Speaker4 : "About a minute."

Unknown Speaker 5: "Did you see any body? You said there were some people on board when the plane started to blow up."

Unknown Speaker 4: "Well, see, they just blew up the front part and then it just kept burning and then the gas tanks caught on fire, and then the whole thing blew up, burned. Tail section still stands."

Announcer: The first of the hijacked planes, a Pan Am 747 jumbo jet, was blown up immediately after landing in Cairo. The other three met the same fate only minutes after all the passengers and crewmen were removed.

The 1970 census taken in the United States revealed that the population has increased to more than 204 million persons. California replaced New York as the most populated state. Only four states lost population with West Virginia leading the list, down 8 and a half percent from 1960.

But even as population increases, people die. In one of the worst disasters of modern times, a devastating cyclone with giant tidal waves killed over a quarter of a million persons in Pakistan.

Coming up next on United Press International's 1970 In Review, an airplane hijacked with a different twist.

Unknown Speaker: "The hijack occurred over Las Vegas, New Mexico. Immediately after taking over the aircraft, the hijacker allegedly said over the radio that he wanted to go to Washington, because his rights had been violated. Addressing himself to the Supreme Court, he said he wanted $100 million in small bills delivered to the plane."

Announcer: We'll look at the $100 million hijack next when 1970 in Review continues.

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Announcer: What do you do if you work for a major airline and one of your pilots calls the control tower and says his plane, loaded with passengers, is being hijacked by a man with a gun? He'll give up the plane, you're told, if you'll get him $100 million. This TWA spokesman got such a call in 1970, and this is what he did.

Unknown Speaker 1: "Everyone really thought the request was for $100,000. So we went to First Merchants Bank, and they got $75,000 out of the bank in Leesburg and $25,000 out of the bank here, and it was on a satchel and it was put on the runway the way he asked for it, and everyone thought they'd complied."

Unknown Speaker 2: "But that's wrong, apparently."

Unknown Speaker 1: "Well, he's unhappy, you know."

Unknown Speaker 3: "How much money does he want?

Unknown Speaker 1: "$100 million."

Unknown Speaker 2: "Well, have you thought about giving him $100 million?

Unknown Speaker 1: "If anybody could find banks open or anything. Where would you find it at this time of the day, I think this is a question."

Announcer: And so began one of the strangest tales of 1970, a plane hijacked for $100 million. The hijacker felt he was cheated by the Government some years ago. His way to get even? Hijack a plane to Washington, demand $100 million from the President, hold the crew and passengers hostage."

Unknown Speaker 1: "He was getting real nervous, and he said, 'I hate to do this.' Frankly I thought this was it when he said that, because I had a better view of him, had my seat turned. All at once he came out and says, 'Send another message,' and this message was gonna give 'em one more chance to come across with the money. First he said the $100 million like he had said before; then he changed his mind and says, 'No, make that 100 tow sacks, bills not less than a $100 bill'. So I sent the message."

Unknown Speaker 2: "What's a tow sack?"

Unknown Speaker 1: "Tow sacks, 100-pound tow sacks, the old 'tater sacks."

Announcer: Believe it or not, an attempt was made to get the money, along with plans for trying to recapture the plane. The eventual capture of the hijacker was not easy.

Unknown Speaker 1: "The tires were shot up, the airplane stopped automatically with a ... they don't go anywhere with flat tires on those big tires. And then the windows and escape hatches began to just fly out of that airplane, and people poured out over the wings and jumped off and fell off and everything; but all they wanted to do was get out of there.

"Here was this nucleus of FBI men who worked their way up under the fuselage. This door was open, and they stood up and looked, couldn't see anything. So one boosted the other one up, and he got a hand hold and started to go in and actually got inside; then half come out again as if somebody was pushing him out, and we thought he was gonna fall out on the ramp, I did. And he was grabbing the door to hang on, and at this point shot started from inside. And he was crouched and half-tried to hold on, and he started to shoot back. But he scrambled right on in still shooting, and another one was boosted up and went in in back of him. In the meantime, this horrible melee started inside of people grabbing and pushing and milling and..."

Unknown Speaker 2: "That's when the crew jumped the man, right?"

Unknown Speaker 1: This is what the crew told me, that when the FBI started in through the door was the first time anybody distracted this man enough that they could actually jump and start, start taking it."

Announcer: The story of political kidnappings, the My Lai trial and the issue of ecology coming up next on 1970 in Review.