Monday, August 19, 2013
the last book I ever read (Brendan I. Koerner's The Skies Belong to Us, excerpt six)
from Brendan I. Koerner's The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking:
At the behest of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, the FAA formed a special antihijacking task force to develop possible solutions to the crisis. The group was immediately inundated with thousands of letters from concerned citizens, who recommended inventive ways to frustrate skyjackers: installing trapdoors outside cockpits, arming stewardesses with tranquilizer darts, making passengers wear boxing gloves so they couldn’t grip guns, playing the Cuban national anthem before takeoff and then arresting anyone who knew the lyrics. The most popular suggestion was for the FAA to build a mock version of José Martí International Airport in a South Florida field, so that skyjackers could be duped into thinking they had reached Havana. That idea sparked serious interest at the agency but was ultimately discarded as too expensive.
As the FAA’s task force sifted through the mountain of proposals, the hijackings continued apace, each more outlandish than the last. A seventy-four-year-old World War I veteran pulled a knife on an Eastern stewardess in the skies above South Carolina; a Black Panther, wanted for his role in a San Francisco shoot-out, hijacked a TWA Boeing 707 over Nevada; an alcoholic used-car dealer from Baltimore took over an Eastern flight while wearing Bermuda shorts and sandals, so that he could hit the beach upon landing in Havana.