Skip to comments.Crew battles mid-air terrorist Alex Hildebrandt in hijacking of TAA flight 408, in 1960s trials
Posted on 10/24/2012 1:32:44 PM PDT by naturalman1975
WHEN the world's first mid-air terrorist threatened to blow an Aussie jet out of the sky, the crew didn't hesitate.
AUSTRALIA holds an unenviable place in aviation history the world's first attempted mid-air hijacking on July 19, 1960.
Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) Flight 408, a Lockheed Electra named the "John Gilbert" was schedule for a 7.30pm departure from Sydney to Brisbane.
Among the 43 passengers on the airline's final run for the day was Russian immigrant Alex Hildebrandt.
In an event modern airline passengers would find hard to comprehend, Hildebrandt, 22, was able to board the aircraft with a concealed sawn-off shotgun and the components needed for a home-made bomb.
During the flight, Hildebrandt went to the toilet where he assembled a gelignite bomb.
On his return he hit the call button, Hildebrandt then thrust the .22 rifle to the throat of hostess Janeene Christie and demanded, "Get me the captain".
He sent first officer Thomas Bennett to alert an off-duty pilot Dinny Lawrence, who he knew to be aboard.
Lawrence, also TAA's New Guinea operations superintendent, grabbed the emergency escape fire axe as he walked through the aircraft and sat behind Hildebrandt.
By this stage Hildebrandt was threatening to blow up the plane with his bomb, two sticks of gelignite attached to homemade detonator.
Lawrence and Bennett, with the help of two hostesses, desperately fought to restrain Hildebrandt.
In the struggle the rifle fired into the ceiling, Lawrence hit Hildebrandt over the head with the axe to stun him and pinned the terrorist to his seat.
Passenger and charter pilot Warren Penny was seated behind Hildebrandt.
He also rushed to Lawrence's aid.
"The captain shoved the machete at me and said, 'If he moves, smash him across the skull,"
(Excerpt) Read more at heraldsun.com.au ...
The article is behind a pay wall, but I've found with stories from this particular site, if you copy and paste (inside quotation marks) the first sentence of the story in news.google.com you often get a link that bypasses the paywall. They don't seem to mind google leading potential new subscribers to stories on a one off basis.
Oh, and speaking as an historian, calling the first hijacking of an aircraft in the world is a contentious claim to say the least. But it is still a significant event.
It was a sawed-off .22 caliber rifled shotgun! Lookout!
Whatever happened to hildebrandt anyways? I know he served a few tears in prison, but after that...what? Is he still alive today?
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