How to combat hijackers.
September 21, 2001 5:38 AM   Subscribe

How to combat hijackers. "If someone were to stand up,brandish something such as a plastic knife and say 'This is a hijacking' or words to that effect here is what you should do: Every one of you should stand up and immediately throw things at that person — pillows, books, magazines, eyeglasses, shoes —anything that will throw him off balance and distract his attention. If he has a confederate or two, do the same with them. Most important: get a blanket over him, then wrestle him to floor and keep him there. We'll land the plane at the nearest airport and the authorities will take it from there."
posted by knutmo (24 comments total)
That has urban legend written all over it.
posted by rcade at 5:41 AM on September 21, 2001

Still, this is definitely not the stupidest idea I have ever heard.
posted by kain at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2001

And if the knife is held against someone's throat?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:49 AM on September 21, 2001

One dead person is better than 50, or 500, or 5000.

Terrible - but true.
posted by Irontom at 5:53 AM on September 21, 2001

It's also true that I wouldn't be throwing anything. WOuld you?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:55 AM on September 21, 2001

Andrew, is it better for one person to die or for 5000? Especially since that one person would be one of the 5000?

In the mean time, I'd like to point out that the seat cushions on all airliners are removable and have straps on the underside. They're intended for use as life preservers in case the jet pancakes into the water somewhere, but they will also make excellent shields against a knife and permit you to use a hand-to-hand tactic called a "shield rush".
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:03 AM on September 21, 2001

Yes I would.

I cannot stand by and let evil things happen without doing something.

The terrible part comes when trying do decide between a small evil (one dead person - or 50) and a large one (6000+ dead people).

It's so dificult to choose because the small evil is right there in your face. The big one is far away and almost impossible for normal people to conceive of.
posted by Irontom at 6:04 AM on September 21, 2001

i like the one boingboing linked to:

Suicidal hijackers, however, should be dealt with in an aggressive fashion in which the cabin and cockpit crew work together to eliminate the threat as soon as possible using all available means. This may include, as examples, depressurizing the aircraft or drastic aircraft maneuvering designed to keep hijackers off-balance and away from the cockpit....

Aircraft cockpits are equipped with a crash ax, which should be considered a potential defensive weapon in the event of a suicidal hijacking. The ax should only be wielded if the crewmember is convinced that using it is necessary to save lives – the pilot must be both mentally and physically prepared to take the life of a cockpit intruder, or the ax could be used against the pilot.
posted by kliuless at 6:15 AM on September 21, 2001

I guess if the hijackers claim to have a bomb (standard procedure), you just take the gamble that they're bluffing. At some point, some fool is going to try an old-fashioned, non-suicide hijacking, and people are going to die in the ensuing panic.
posted by gimli at 7:33 AM on September 21, 2001

At some point, some fool is going to try an old-fashioned, non-suicide hijacking, and people are going to die in the ensuing panic.

If every time an American (country, not airline) flight was hijacked in the past 25 years, the aircraft was blown up killing everyone on the plane but no one on the ground, we'd be dramatically ahead.

Tuesday was that bad.
posted by jaek at 10:18 AM on September 21, 2001

I was on a city bus wich a crack addict (I later found out) tried to Hijack. The incident was stopped when a failry hefty woman stood up and started beating the man with her walking cane.
posted by DragonBoy at 10:23 AM on September 21, 2001

The terrible part comes when trying do decide between a small evil (one dead person - or 50) and a large one (6000+ dead people).

Actually, the other terrible part, in the case of a terrorist having a knife to someone's throat, is whether to rush him immediately or to potentially wait for a better opportunity...
posted by fooljay at 10:24 AM on September 21, 2001

I would throw everything I had.

All one has to do to know that this course of action is right is to watch the strength and grace of Lisa Beamer, the wife of one of the passengers who tried to resist the hijackers. That woman is a rock, and I suspect she gains no small comfort from the fact that her husband did what he could to fight back.
posted by donnagirl at 10:30 AM on September 21, 2001

Hindsight is 20/20. And knowing how many people get sick at the sight of blood, I can't imagine the human reaction to seeing another living human killed in front of you; like what happened on the hijaaked flilghts.

Also, keep in mind that up until this date most hijaakings resulted in a change of route. Take the plane here. Take the plane there. And I'm sure that none of the hijaakers told them "Hey, we're going to crash this plane and all of you into the World Trade Center towers..."

If they said THAT, then fuck. Bum rush them. But all this hindsight talk about what the passengers could have done is horse-shit.

Concentrate on what airline security could have done and how hiring someone for less money than a McDonald's employee can result in a security risk.
posted by RoyalJack at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2001

Hey RJ, we're not talking about hindsight. We're talking about the future. Or at least I am...

In the future, I don't give a crap what they say they are going to do. The images are too burned into my brain. I don't blame the passengers who had no precedental and reasonable idea that they would do this.
posted by fooljay at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2001

I was talking with a friend who's a United airline attendant. She said that she could totally see how they overtook the airplane so quickly. They were told (up to this point) to not do anything to hurt anyone or risk their lives (like you're told to do when robbed...give them the money cuz that's all they usually want.) They're told to cooperate fully with the hijackers because, as RoyalJack said, up to this point they just wanted a ride somewhere.
Now, I think things will change.
It's time to kick ass.
posted by aacheson at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2001

I think they should add a new element to those instructions they give you at the beginning of every flight about what to do in an emergency. I mean, think about it, then people might pay attention.

" ...

- In case of a water landing ...

- If an attempted hijacker has a knife at your throat ...

- If an attempted hijacker has a knife at someone else's throat ...

- And, of course, if he's a crack addict, just bash him over the head with your cane."
posted by mattpfeff at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2001

No, all hikackers aren't suicide bombers... but the massive adjustment in the threat estimate on the part of the passengers makes it pretty much immaterial.

Flight 93 is the proof of that, and it was only half an hour afterwards. No one will successfully hijack an American airliner, I think, ever again, and I suspect it will be a damned long time before anyone is even stupid enough to try.

I have first hand reports from a traveling friend that the "half dozen big guys" who were with him on an ALB-TPA flight the other day were all prepared to take down anyone dumb enough to try, and he's pretty certain they were, excuse the pun, dead serious.
posted by baylink at 3:40 PM on September 21, 2001

This post is such BS. I've had it sent to me about 10 times. Do you think any pilot would now use the work "hijack" over the intercom?

How many of you have ever seen a situation where a group of people stepped forward to stop a jerk in a bar, or some jerk on the street/bus who was harassing passerby? People are sheep, for the most part.

I've stepped forward a few times when a drunk or a street bum was harrasing someone. I'm not that big, but I'm loud and can talk like a badass. I'm not a tough guy, I'm a lousy fighter, I just don't like to see a jerk win. I was raised to believe that it's better to stand up and get your ass kicked than to put up with a fool. (I grew up in cowboy country)

I've had far more people look away or walk on in those situations where I've stood up than I've had someone step forward and say, "I'm with you." I wish the post were true, but it won't happen.

There will always be a brave few people or individuals willing to step forward and deal with the bad. They are heros. But the idea that everyone in the described scenario would step forward? Never happen. Urban legend.
posted by Whistlepig at 8:24 PM on September 21, 2001

Whistle, those people didn't have anything on the line. But in a jet hijacking, everyone lives and dies together. Does wonders for people's commitment.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2001

Every one of you should stand up and immediately throw things at that person...

This is where John Cleese meets Harry Callahan:

"Being this is a Powerbook G4 - the most powerful Notebook in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question, do I feel lucky. Well, do ya punk?"
posted by See-Threepio at 9:24 PM on September 21, 2001

Now all hijackers are suicide bombers?

Are you willing to gamble that they aren't?
posted by fooljay at 9:56 PM on September 21, 2001

That's exactly the point. Until now, it was always assumed that the most valuable asset on the jet was its passengers. We now know that the most valuable asset is the jet itself, measured in possible lives lost. It doesn't matter whether the next hijacker actually intends to be a suicide bomber; if they get control of the pilot's cabin then we have to assume they are. From now on, top priority in all hijackings will be to retain control of the jet -- or to shoot it down if that control is lost.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:51 AM on September 22, 2001

Apparently, I was wrong to believe this was a false urban legend.
posted by rcade at 6:08 AM on September 22, 2001

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