Dawson's Field Hijackings

From Wikipedia:
In the Dawson's Field hijackings (September 6, 1970) four jet aircraft bound for New York City were hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

  • TWA Flight 74 from Frankfurt am Main and Swissair Flight 100 from Z├╝rich-Kloten Airport landed at Zerqa, also known as Dawson's Field, a remote desert airstrip in Jordan formerly used as a British Royal Air Force base.
  • The hijacking of El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam was foiled; hijacker Patrick Arguello was shot to death and his partner Leila Khaled was subdued and turned over to British authorities in London. Two hijackers prevented from joining the El Al flight instead hijacked Pan Am Flight 93, a Boeing 747, diverting the large plane to Beirut and then Cairo rather than the small Jordanian field.
  • A fifth plane, BOAC Flight 775 from Bahrain, was hijacked on September 9 by a PFLP sympathizer and brought to Dawson's Field in order to pressure the British to free Khaled.

A couple weeks ago, Tivo decided I would like to learn more about one of the most notorious assaults on civilian aviation. It recorded Hijacked, an documentary from the PBS series, The American Experience.

The show follows the story as it evolved, from the initial hijacking, to the trials in the desert, to the harrowing escapes in Cairo, to the high-level political discussions, and even to the street battles in a Jordan teetering on the brink of collapse.

While the passengers survived, Palestinian terrorists destroyed 4 aircraft and thrust middle east tension into the attention of the American people.

What I am still trying to figure out, however, is why I never heard about the hijackings until this month.

Regardless, if you can catch the PBS Documentary, it's worth the viewing time.

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