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Airline Pilot's Expert Answers On How We (The Passengers) Can Help Stop Hijackings
Landings ^ | 28AUG02 | FedEx Captain

Posted on 08/31/2002 10:00:08 AM PDT by MindBender26

My name is John BXXXX. I am a DC-10 Captain for FedEx. I am also a (reserve)Police Officer for the Memphis Police Department. My purpose in writing this is to share some of my thoughts regarding actions a pilot might consider when faced with a modern-day hijacker. These thoughts are "outside-the-box" when it comes to the way we've all been trained. Neither the FAA nor our companies will suggest any of these techniques or implement them as a part of our normal training cycles. They couldn't for fear of lawsuits.

I am distributing this via e-mail to buddies I've flown with. I'm asking them to send it to their circle of friends within the industry, and for you to send it to yours. I know most of us have e-mail, and I hope this reaches the next to face the horror of some religious fanatic onboard. We have all had "training" in what to do in case of a hijacking; try to keep the hijacker calm, make him think you're doing what he wants, take him where ever he wants to go, etc., etc., etc. Save your passengers, your crew, and your aircraft.

In an emergency, you will revert to that training. When our unfortunate peers were faced with the screams of the Flight Attendants and hijacker's demands to open the cockpit door, their training probably made them open the door. When the fanatics made demands, their training told them to comply as best they could. I can only wonder what their thoughts were as they left the cockpit and were tied up in the back of the plane; what they thought as they descended over New York... I hope the fanatics had to kill them in their seats and drag their dead bodies out of the cockpit. But, I bet they did as they were trained to do...

As you look back over recent hijackings, FedEx, Egypt Air, and now the September 11th hijackings, you see a perpetrator who, for one reason or another wants to take over the airplane and kill himself. Each of these hijackers, except for the FedEx incident, were successful. They took over the airplane and killed everyone onboard. If you're following the news programs today, you hear a lot about how we could let these hijackers learn to fly. You would think if knowing how to fly would guarantee a successful hijacking, Auburn Calloway (the FedEx hijacker) would have been a hijacker success story. He was a Navy pilot, a martial arts student, a fellow FedEx crewmember, and he took all the weapons he needed: hammers, knives and a spear gun. He didn't have to overcome any Flight Attendants or demand they open the cockpit door. He just went back to his bag, took out his hammer came back into the cockpit and started crushing skulls.

The crewmembers on that flight didn't worry about Flight Attendants; they didn't worry about passengers. All three pilots left the cockpit and fought a hand-to-hand, life-or-death battle. To survive today's hijacker, you cannot worry about your passengers; you cannot worry about your Flight Attendants. You must develop a mind-set that everyone onboard - including yourself - is already dead. Because, if the hijacker is successful in taking over your airplane, not only you, your crew, your passengers and your aircraft are lost, but thousands on the ground are at risk. One of the reasons the FedEx crew survived, is the extraordinary actions of the co-pilot. Although he had brain injury, the co-pilot took the DC-10 and immediately executed a half-roll. This maneuver took the hijacker off his feet as the Captain and S/O were struggling with him. During a point in the maneuver, the hijacker, Captain and S/O were thrown back behind the cockpit door. When he righted the airplane, the F/O then left his seat and joined the fight in the galley area of the plane. It was only after the Captain determined the hijacker was subdued, he returned to the cockpit and flew the airplane to landing. Very few of us have had to confront true evil. Fewer still have seriously considered taking the life of another human being. I believe this is the reason the FedEx crew did not kill their attacker. The crew's heroism that day is beyond belief and any action that leads to a safe landing and recovery cannot be argued with. But, when the Captain left the F/O and S/O, thinking the situation was under control, he was mistaken. The F/O and S/O had sustained serious, life threatening injuries. The hijacker had not. As the Captain flew the aircraft, the hijacker, who had surrendered, began the fight anew. As the airplane landed, the hijacker was just moments away from overcoming the two crewmembers.

I mention this for your consideration. I would suggest that you make the conscious decision to kill anyone who tries to take your airplane from you. Today we are at war. The hijacker who comes through your cockpit door is going to kill you and everyone onboard.

So, how do you do that? What weapons are available to us as pilots?

The Intercom. Command that all men come forward and fight with the hijackers. You have many able-bodied men onboard. They are sitting in shock not knowing what to do. Command they come forward and help you kill your attackers.

And, they will come.

The Airplane. Get the hijackers off their feet. Go into an immediate dive to float them to the ceiling. Then execute a 6G positive maneuver and hope they hit their head or break their back as they hit the floor, galley shelf, etc. Dump the cabin - maybe one of the hijackers has a head cold. Pull the fire handles, shut the start levers and turn the fuel valves off. If you lose the battle, at least the airplane won't be used as a guided missile on a kamikaze mission. With luck, maybe these guys didn't learn how to do an in-flight restart. Then leave the cockpit - all of you, and kill your attackers - don't believe it when they surrender - don't be nice to them - KILL THEM.

Flare Gun. If your airplane has one, the Captain might consider making sure it's loaded and secured next to his bag.

The Crash-Axe. I would suggest you have your co-pilot take it from its holder and secure it next to him so he has it immediately available.

Your Flashlight. The FAA use to require a 2 cell. A 3 cell Mag-Light that makes an excellent weapon. If your maneuvers have the hijackers on the floor writhing in pain.

Your 'Stolen' Hotel Bic Pen: an attacker's eye, ear, throat, or into the area just under the jawbone...

Your Hand and Fingers: eyes are a good target (It will confuse the hell out of him when he finds himself looking at his shoes as they dangle there on the ocular nerves).

Your Teeth. Remember Hannibal Lecter. Eat a nose, a cheek, or a finger. And keep eating. Attack with all viciousness. A piranha is a small fish, but it's greatly feared. A hijacker is not expecting you to eat him and it might make him forget why he got on your airplane to begin with. It will, at least, impress his buddies.

Now here's my wish list of things the FAA could do to help, especially in this time of war.

Arm the Captain. The battle is not going to require any long shots and a small revolver would be a good choice. It would hold off the attackers long enough for you to disable your aircraft. If the attackers claimed the red package they were holding was a bomb, I'd shoot out the door glass and hope the door would be ripped out and the hijacker and his package would be sucked out. And hey, I if I got sucked out with him, I'd try to fly myself to the hijacker look in his face and laugh at him all the way to the ground.

Invite the Local Police to Jump Seat. Police are always looking for something free. Donut shops use to be a favorite target for robbers - until they started giving donuts to the Police. Robbers don't rob donut shops anymore. I would suggest each Police Department send the FAA a list of the best shots on the department and those guys and their guns would be welcome on my airplane. Fill every vacant seat with armed Police - give them a donut - and tell them to shoot anyone who gives your Flight Attendant any problems.

Stop this Silly No-Knife Rule. Make it public. Tell the public they're welcome to bring their pocketknives onboard. Then everyone will bring them. When you make your intercom call for help, you'll have a dozen or more knife wielding helpers trying to make sure their new Gerber tastes fanatics blood. There are even a few of them who'd want to keep ears as souvenirs. Law enforcement agencies are all aware there are copycat criminals and fanatics. We have a number of loony fanatical hate-groups here in the USA: ALF, PETA, KKK, Army of God, Anti-abortionists, and the list goes on. It doesn't matter the size of your airplane. Right now, as I write this, there is an anti-abortionist escapee here in the Memphis area. He's seen what happened at the World Trade Center. A small commuter plane would do a great job on an abortion clinic, or on an animal research facility, or on a local synagogue, mosque, etc., etc., etc... None of us is immune. Take some time and consider your actions if this event should ever happen to you.

My prayer is none of you ever have to face this kind of decision.

Best of luck to you, and may God Bless.


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

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John's last name removed for security purposes
1 posted on 08/31/2002 10:00:08 AM PDT by MindBender26
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To: MindBender26; All
See this post about Jim Tucker and FedEx Flight 705.
2 posted on 08/31/2002 10:04:46 AM PDT by dighton
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To: MindBender26
I am a 62 year old granny with a fair amount of my youthful strength. Reading this makes my blood boil & I feel like I could take down one of these slime ball my self.
3 posted on 08/31/2002 10:10:17 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: MindBender26
If the feral and every other branch of gummint will cease and desist all and every unconstitutional activity insofar as the Second Ammendment of the United States of America's Constitution is concerned, the would-be hijackers will quickly go find other employment!

If every American was likely to be excercising his Creator-Given Right to own and bear arms, who would dare even to rob a convenience store?

Let alone to hijack an aircraft!

FReegards -- [Captain] Brian Allen
4 posted on 08/31/2002 10:14:33 AM PDT by Brian Allen
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To: Ditter
I am just a little curious about the recco for a "6G positive maneuver". Isn't that a bit much for the modern day jumbo?
5 posted on 08/31/2002 10:16:48 AM PDT by Check6
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To: MindBender26
One question: Why call all passengers to rush the guy and THEN roll the plane?

Why not roll first, when most are belted in their seats and the perp is moving freely? THEN call passengers to join in the "fun" - after he's been bounced around a little.
6 posted on 08/31/2002 11:06:54 AM PDT by Humidston
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To: MindBender26
Then leave the cockpit - all of you, and kill your attackers - don't believe it when they surrender - don't be nice to them - KILL THEM.

This last part is very important; it solves a host of problems that would plague us for many, many years should the vermin be allowed to continue breathing.

7 posted on 08/31/2002 11:11:26 AM PDT by MarineDad
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To: MindBender26
"My name is John Burnett."

No security here - found it 42 times on Google. See here:

for mention at a natonal level.

8 posted on 08/31/2002 11:22:12 AM PDT by Tennessee_Bob
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To: MindBender26
I find the stylus for my palm pilot to be a much more dangerous implement than nail clippers. No one ever questions the fact that I have one.
9 posted on 08/31/2002 11:24:50 AM PDT by Grammy
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To: MindBender26
Flight officers are captains of their craft. They make life and death decisions everyday. Every takeoff and landing, many per day, thousands per year, and 100’s of thousands per a lifetime career, All must be done safely. And they are. Let them be armed. I don't care if I am sitting in the back and the crew (not that they would) is blind shooting down the cockpit alleyway. I'll take my chances.

Go Pilots Go!
10 posted on 08/31/2002 11:46:31 AM PDT by Leisler
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To: MindBender26
Excellent article.

I can only add a recommendation that Norman Maneta be carried aboard in a glass-doored case.

In Case of Emergency
Break Glass
Throw Norman From The Plane

11 posted on 08/31/2002 11:59:16 AM PDT by PhilDragoo
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To: MindBender26
Well how many flight attns. and passengers were on-board? I thought Fed-ex did not carry passengers.If they don't carry passengers they don't carry flight attns. There may have been somone on board as a fake pilot.
12 posted on 08/31/2002 12:20:03 PM PDT by moteineye
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To: moteineye
I thought Fed-ex did not carry passengers.

They have a limited number of seats for transporting employees. The hijacker was a Fedex pilot who was about to be fired.

13 posted on 08/31/2002 12:25:15 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: MindBender26
The pilot references several hijackings but left out this one:

THE WORLD TRADE CENTER and Pentagon attacks with hijacked airliners have been called “unimaginable,” “without precedent” and “impossible to predict.” But were they? In 1994, in a strikingly similar plan, suicidal Algerian hijackers plotted to use an Air France jetliner, loaded with fuel and dynamite, as a deadly weapon — and to aim it at the Eiffel Tower.

Now, for the first time since the hijacking, a crew member from that fateful flight is speaking out. Jean-Paul Borderie was the co-pilot on Flight 8969. He says the thought of a jet flying into the Eiffel Tower seemed unbelievable, at least until September 11.


Paris, the City of Light, was at its brightest, preparing for a joyous holiday, the boulevards glowing in anticipation. At 11:15 that morning, 1,200 miles away in Algeria, an Air France A-300 jumbo jet was preparing to depart for the French capital. On board, 227 passengers and crew. Just before departure, four men dressed as airport officials came and stood in the doorway to check passports. Suddenly, there was a gunshot in the cabin, and a passenger was killed, as the rest looked on in horror.

Ferhat Mehenny was on Flight 8969. “After that one gunshot, the terrorists made themselves known, and said they were hijacking the plane,” he says.

The four men dressed as airport officials were actually hijackers, members of a fanatical terror squad known as the “Armed Islamic Group,” a group terrorism experts believe has ties to Osama bin Laden.

They roamed the aisles of the Airbus A-300, heavily armed with machine guns, automatic pistols, grenades... and dynamite. The hijackers released some women, children, and elderly passengers. But by mid-afternoon, still on the ground three hours after the ordeal began, another passenger was shot to death.

“They said they were going to kill one passenger every 30 minutes,” remembers co-pilot Jean Paul Borderie.

As the hijacking stretched into day two, Christmas Day, a third passenger was killed aboard the parked jetliner. The pilots were in the dark about the hijackers’ intentions, but the French government secretly began assembling a commando team after receiving a dire warning from a secret informant, and from some of the released hostages — the hijackers actually wanted to fly the jet into the Eiffel Tower, and explode it over Paris.

“There was wiring and dynamite under the seats; we heard the terrorists planning on blowing up the plane when they were waiting for fuel to come,” says passenger Mehenny.

Blowing up an airliner over Paris? It sounded unbelievable, but it wasn’t unheard of: in 1986, American officials had learned that terrorists had wanted to blow up a hijacked Pan Am flight over Tel Aviv, but the attempt was thwarted. So French authorities knew the similar Air France threat was deadly serious. And with passengers on Flight 8969 being murdered one by one — at this point three had been killed — the French government decided it had to let the plane take off.

In this case, though, the hijackers didn’t know how to fly. “Yeah, for just a short part of this time, the rule was different; we’re in charge, in command,” says co-pilot Borderie.

As the plane finally took off from Algiers, more than 36 hours into the ordeal, the crew told the hijackers they needed to stop in Marseilles, 500 miles south of Paris, for more fuel.

“We thought it was better for everybody to land in France,” says Borderie.

The French government wanted a secure staging ground for a commando attack to end the hijacking. “We had no information about the hour of attack, but we were quite sure they were going to make an attack,” says Borderie.

At Marseilles, the hijackers demanded the plane’s tanks be filled with three times the amount of fuel they’d actually need to fly to Paris. As we now know, in the recent attacks against the U.S., the hijackers apparently targeted flights that would have heavy loads of fuel.

Retired Army colonel and terrorism expert John Alexander says that’s when authorities knew what the hijackers were trying to do. “They didn’t need 27 tons of fuel to reach Paris. They were creating a bomb.”


As the hijacked plane sat on the ground in Marseilles, the French government used a series of stalling tactics, lasting 14 hours, as they rushed to reposition their commando team. Then suddenly, the hijackers sent a threatening signal by shooting at negotiators in the control tower. The French commandos, who’d been secretly flown in on another Air France jet parked nearby — arrived at the side of the plane on catering equipment and ran up the front stairs. Within seconds, as frightening images unfolded live on French television, the 54-hour siege was about to come to an explosive end.

“At this moment, the four terrorists were in the cockpit with us. They killed two terrorists quickly, approximately maybe 20 seconds,” says Borderie.

The Special Forces tossed stun grenades in the cabin to fill it with noise and smoke, and with assault rifles firing, they shouted at passengers to get down and crawl to the escape slides. For co-pilot Jean-Paul Borderie, who told “Dateline NBC” he tried to keep his cool in the face of terror, it was time to make his move. In a dramatic moment captured by cameras, Borderie jumped more than 25 feet from the cockpit window to the tarmac, breaking his leg when he hit the ground.

“I was in the line of fire, of course, I had two terrorists at my back, and the French troops on the other side. It was very, very dangerous,” says Borderie.

The pilot was injured as well. But within just four minutes, the commandos had killed all four hijackers and not one of the 177 passengers remaining on board was seriously injured in the raid. It was one of the most successful hostage rescues in history.

Former U.S. Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism Jerry Bremer says Air France Flight 8969 confirmed what was seen in the earlier plot to blow up the Pan Am Flight over Israel. “The idea of hijacking and flying a commercial airliner into a population center was in the minds of some terrorists,” says Bremer.


For many security experts, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are proof that we missed important lessons from Air France Flight 8969 and failed to make proper changes in aviation security. “As a nation, we just did not want to listen to the clues that were being presented to us, and the people who were saying ‘this is gonna happen, it’s just a matter of when and where,’” says retired Col. John Alexander.

Alexander says the world missed three lessons. “First of all, we should have thought A) it can happen, and specifically, using aircraft as cheap guided missiles. It also should have said, ‘we need to upgrade security.’”

But it now seems clear that the terrorists learned a lesson. The plot was thwarted partly because the hijackers couldn’t fly the plane. And federal investigators say, soon after, men with ties to Osama Bin Laden began taking flying lessons.

Still, counter-terrorism experts caution that it’s too early to come to conclusions about links between the Air France hijacking and the attacks on America. “We can make a closer connection between the 1994 attack and the September 11th attack only because we know there are connections between the groups. Between the Algerian group, GIA, and bin Laden’s group,” says Bremer.

But whatever the connection, the 54 hours of terror suffered by the passengers and crew of Air France Flight 8969 will never be forgotten.

An interesting footnote to all this is that after the incident the French authorities pre-emptively surrendered to the remainder of the terrorist organization.

14 posted on 08/31/2002 12:37:46 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter
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To: MindBender26
This article is the best thing written about the entire situation. If we have truly reached the point where our enemies can overcome ten to one odds armed only with box cutters, there is no hope for this country. We need to end the stupid restrictions on nail clippers and pocket knives and return to an attitude that anyone who attacks American citizens will be killed on the spot. That attitude would have saved all but a handful of people on September 11. Passivity in the face of evil is evil.

What If?

15 posted on 08/31/2002 12:40:29 PM PDT by WFTR
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To: MindBender26
I fly a lot and there is one thing that continues to happen and not just on long haul flights.The cockpit door opens for a lav break or for food to be given to the crew. When I see this happen-I take it upon myself to stand up and face the back of the plane. I wish the FAs could tap a few of us, sitting towards the front and ask us to just stand in the aisle for a few minutes, while the FO takes a break.But,I am sure that there are FAA regs that prohibit this. For the first time, last week, I did see the FAs give some cover to the cockpit, while meals were brought in-but, these little ladies could have been knocked over in a heartbeat. That window of vulnerability exists and it should be addressed. Oh and the seat cushions could be used as shields.
16 posted on 08/31/2002 12:41:53 PM PDT by Wild Irish Rogue
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To: Wild Irish Rogue
My husband's a former Naval Aviator, and currently sits in the right seat of a widebody for an airline.

After driving to the airport, signing in, and getting through security, my husband usually will call me before he turns his cell phone off to go fly. Nearly every time since 9-11, besides the standard last minute stuff, I love you and all that, I ask him if he visited the head. Just doing that, has kept the cockpit door secured, so many times more than had I not asked him at all.

Just proudly doing my part for my children's daddy and for the nation. :)
17 posted on 08/31/2002 1:22:15 PM PDT by getmeouttaPalmBeachCounty_FL
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To: MindBender26
A hijacker is not expecting you to eat him and it might make him forget why he got on your airplane to begin with. It will, at least, impress his buddies.

That was my favorite part of the whole article. LOL! Instead of hollering "Get Him!" just shout "Eat Him!" or "Free Terrorist Pizza for Everyone!"

18 posted on 08/31/2002 1:59:33 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: PhilDragoo
I can only add a recommendation that Norman Maneta be carried aboard in a glass-doored case.

In Case of Emergency
Break Glass
Throw Norman From The Plane

Norman ought to be thrown out of the office. What he has done is inexcusable.

I have chosen not to fly because of it. However, shortly I will be forced to do so because I can't drive overseas. I am certain that I am at great risk because of this person.

I am also certain that I would appreciate a plane loaded with CC passengers since the government is busy defrauding us of our freedoms (under the guise of protection) and fielding "defenders" who enjoy targeting senior women, beautiful blondes and old Congresscritters with metal hips as possible airplane "terrorists" .

Then they wonder why the airline industry is going down. This whole thing has constituted a government move against the airlines.

19 posted on 08/31/2002 6:58:02 PM PDT by Spirited
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To: Brian Allen
I agree 100%.

Mr. Allen I am looking for an attorney with guts, who will help me file an injunction in federal court to:

1--enjoin the FAA from infinging on my constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If the airlines do not want me to bring my gun onboard, that is their choice.

2--enjoin all "federalize" employees from exercising search and seizures without a warrant based on a sworn asservation before a judge, indicating what items of mine are to be search and seized and for what reason.

Can hou help?

20 posted on 08/31/2002 7:23:34 PM PDT by tahiti
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