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Has 9/11 Made Us Nostalgic for the Golden Age of Skyjacking?
August 18, 2006 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Japanese leftists seize plane with samurai swords. AWOL Marine sets record by hijacking plane from Fresno to Rome. Female Palestinian hijacker becomes radical chic pin-up. D.B. Cooper parachutes from 727 with $200,000 in unmarked bills. Have airplane bombings made us nostalgic for old-school skyjackers who just wanted money or a trip to Cuba? Academic papers analyze skyjacking in the 60s & 70s according to contagion and rational choice models. Check out a prescient pre-9/11 documentary on the subject with great archival clips.
posted by jonp72 (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
We didn't need to dismantle our Constitution for any of those--and they weren't uncommon occurences back then at all (and you should mention Entebbe/Uganda--one of the most well-known, i think)
posted by amberglow at 2:49 PM on August 18, 2006


Great post. The Japanese hijacking story is especially interesting.
posted by Iridic at 3:00 PM on August 18, 2006


The Japanese hijacking story is especially interesting.

I love the part where they try tricking the hijackers into thinking that South Korea is North Korea. The incident is included in Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, the pre-9/11 documentary I linked to earlier.
posted by jonp72 at 3:04 PM on August 18, 2006


...They flew home, abandoning the samurai skyjackers to a doubtful welcome: Pyongyang Radio was already referring to them as "Trotskyite criminals."

What a BURN!
posted by tkchrist at 3:07 PM on August 18, 2006


I love the part where they try tricking the hijackers into thinking that South Korea is North Korea.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty brilliant as well. I mean, that's something they would do in a silly action movie, no one would ever try that in the real world.

...They flew home, abandoning the samurai skyjackers to a doubtful welcome: Pyongyang Radio was already referring to them as "Trotskyite criminals."


Again, this sounds like the script for a bad actioneer.

You can almost hear the copy:

The camera pulls out on our plucky villains, night is fast approaching, these men have survived the duplicity of the airlines, the long wait of the siege and now they have finally reached their destination...

/cut to a shot of the nine unarmed men standing in a dark jungle. In the distance a radio can be heard calling them criminals, the men draw nearer one another as strange noises seem to be moving closer to them through the black trees.

/screen fades to black.

Hell, why hasn't this been made into an action movie?
posted by quin at 3:58 PM on August 18, 2006


I wonder what happened to the samurai in North Korea, and if they are still alive...
posted by nomisxid at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2006


I thought Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y was a bit sketchy myself - it turns into that which it seeks to examine by the end.

(And I know it's wrong of me to think so, but Leila Khaled was hot. Not as hot as some of the Red Army Faction lot, admittedly, but still among the hottest of terrorists.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:05 PM on August 18, 2006


Finally, Japan's Transportation Vice Minister Shinjiro Yamamura offered to accompany them to Pyongyang as hostage if they would let the passengers go.

I really can't imagine something like that happening in America.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2006


BBC anniversary story on Red Army Faction hijack of Lufthansa flight
posted by jonp72 at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2006


Btw, whatever happened to the Red Army Faction and the Baader Meinhof Gang (not to mention Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army), are they still around.

I feel like I'm talking about one-hit-wonder rock bands, but the analogy is apt. There was something kind of rakish and naughty about 70s terrorist groups, that, uh, doesn't translate so well today.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 4:57 PM on August 18, 2006


There were an absolute crapload of hijackings back in the olden days. For instance, Wikipedia says there were 82 in 1969 alone. That's what started all the security stuff.
posted by smackfu at 5:05 PM on August 18, 2006


whatever happened to the Red Army Faction and the Baader Meinhof Gang (not to mention Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army)

Individual profiles on Red Army Faction/Baader-Meinhof Gang members can be found here.

And here's the story on the Weathermen's dissolution.
posted by Iridic at 5:07 PM on August 18, 2006


I wonder what happened to the samurai in North Korea, and if they are still alive...

Hijacking the jet was easy, the hard part is getting back to Japan.
posted by arruns at 5:10 PM on August 18, 2006


btw, this is one of the most concise summaries of the body of work of one of the 1970s ("terrorist-chic" anyone?) terrorist movements I have read:

In a weird way I can sympathize with a lot of what the SLA tried to articulate about our materialistic society and consumer culture. But it was framed in such over-the-top paranoid crazy rhetoric, and hammered home through such idiotic acts of violence, that they undermined any real message they might have had. Through force of arms and a great deal of flamboyance and political savvy, they captured the attention of the world, and then had absolutely nothing to say.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 5:34 PM on August 18, 2006


For more on pre 9-11 hijackings, see Inflight, a magazine you should not take w/you to the airport.
posted by user92371 at 6:26 PM on August 18, 2006


they captured the attention of the world, and then had absolutely nothing to say

If only I could capture the attention of the world! I've got a lot of nothing to say too.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:58 PM on August 18, 2006


WTF is a "Leftist"?
posted by Artw at 7:43 PM on August 18, 2006


The problem here is that if you let Uma Thurman carry a sword onboard, then everyone is going to start doing it...
posted by heylight at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2006


WTF is a "Leftist"?

It's a word Americans (or maybe just people on MetaFilter) started using sometime in the last few years (as far as I know) to mean 'left-wing'. See also 'Islamist' and the even more recent, 'Christist'.
posted by jack_mo at 6:04 AM on August 19, 2006


In my day a leftist was someone who fought against US-backed puppet regimes in the jungles of Central America.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 6:36 AM on August 19, 2006


the term has been around at least as far back as 1924, according to this etymology site. i guess it's not a word most people would use much in everyday speech, but i don't think it's terribly uncommon.
posted by jjoye at 4:23 PM on August 19, 2006


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