Just plane madness: the wacky golden age of hijacking

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Just plane madness: the wacky golden age of hijacking

In an era close to free of the phenomenon, we easily forget there was a time when plane hijackings were common

Hugh Morris

In the past decade 20 aircraft around the world have been hijacked. That figure still seems worryingly high in a post-9/11 world – how could an airline allow a stranger to wrestle control of a plane full of passengers? – but historically speaking the number indicates a comprehensive victory in the battle against crime in the skies.

Track back 50 years and hijackings were commonplace. In 1969 there were 86, according to statistics from the Aviation Safety Network. In 1970 there were 70.

In five years, between 1968 and 1972, more than 130 aircraft were hijacked in the US alone, sometimes two on the same day. The startling regularity of seizures at 36,000 feet has led to the era being dubbed “the Golden Age of Hijacking”...

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