TNB Night Owl – Hijacked!

Cargolux LX-ICV Boeing 747-428. Photo by Tak.

Airplane hijackings have been a point of grave concern for decades. In the 1970s and into the 1980s, television and movies alike used the threat of an airplane being hijacked to Cuba as a standard plot device. After the terrorist strikes of 9/11, fears naturally grew and protections were put into place.

All of those protections were bypassed last month, when an attacker breached the cockpit of a 737. A Tarco Airlines jet traveling from Khartoum, Sudan to Doha, Qatar was about a half hour into their flight when the plane’s pilot was attacked. The co-pilot attempted to restrain the assailant but failed; the remainder of the crew swarmed the cockpit and were able to protect the pilot until he could return the plane safely to the departure airport.

Subsequent investigation revealed how the attacker was able to get into the cockpit, and why this story merited a mention in the Night Owl: they snuck in overnight while the plane was in its hangar, and waited inside the cockpit, hiding while the pre-flight checks were done. They waited until the flight had begun, then struck.

A cockpit isn’t normally large enough for such a course of events. In this case, there was an additional factor: the attacker was a stray cat. It is believed to have been one of a handful which live near the hangar, and to have curled up inside a warm area overnight. Unfortunately for the pilot and crew, feral cats aren’t known to appreciate being locked in a small area with unfamiliar humans.

They might have had a clue to watch for such an oddity, though. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) uses four-letter codes to designate airports throughout the world. The code for Khartoum International Airport, Sudan is an inherent warning about angry cats: HSSS.

Question of the night: What’s your most memorable animal attack experience?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.