Last revised: April 24, 2019
ATC - 25 Best Years -
Album # 7.
San Francisco + Houston
+ Los Angeles
January 7, 1972 - A man and woman successfully hijacked a B-727 from San Francisco, CA to Cuba.
January 7, 1972 - A Braniff B-727 was hijacked as it departed Houston, TX for Dallas. The lone armed hijacker allowed all 94 passengers to deplane at Dallas Love Field, but continued to hold the 7 crew members hostage, demanding to fly to South America and asking for $2 Million, parachutes, and jungle survival gear. After a 6-hour standoff, the entire crew secretly fled while the hijacker was distracted examining the contents of a package delivered by Dallas police who stormed the jet, and arrested the hijacker without serious incident.
1972 - TWA Flight #2 from Los Angeles to
New York, was hijacked by a con man and bank robber while over Chicago. He
demanded $306,800 in cash (for his loss in a recent court case). He also
requested the release of Angela Davis and another friend in prison, and
clemency from President Nixon. The FBI was able to retake the aircraft
during a crew change at JFK, and the hijacker was shot and wounded. No one
else was hurt.
1972 - Following labor disputes at
TWA, a man organized an extortion plot against the airline and warned
that four bombs had been planted aboard TWA jets and would go off
over an 18-hour period. However he said he would provide the bomb's
locations if paid $2. Million. The first bomb, aboard a B-707,
leaving New York for Los Angeles, returned and a bomb was diffused in a
briefcase in the cockpit, just 12 minutes before detonation.
New (Lockheed TriStar L-1011) New
April 14, 1972 - The First Lockheed TriStar L-1011 (400 passengers) three-engine, wide-body, medium-to-long range airliner was type-certified by the FAA.
Eastern Air Lines inaugurated scheduled L-1011 service with a flight from Miami to New York. Eastern Air Lines nicknamed the L-1011 as the "WhisperLiner".
The main visible difference between the TriStar and the Douglas DC-10 is the middle/tail engine. The DC-10's engine is mounted above the fuselage for simplicity of design and more economical construction. The TriStar's engine is mounted to the rear fuselage and fed through an S-duct (similar to the B-727) for reduced drag and easier replacement.
MIDDLE/TAIL ENGINE COMPARISON
The L-1011 was manufactured in Lockheed facilities in Burbank and Palmdale, California and faced brisk competition with the B-747 and the DC-10 which it closely resembled.
Sales of the L-1011 were hampered by two years of delays due to developmental and financial problems at Rolls-Royce, the sole manufacturer of the TriStar's engines.
Delta Air Lines was the TriStar's largest customer, and Cathay Pacific acquired over 20 L-1011's when Eastern Air Lines went bankrupt.
Lockheed no longer competed against Boeing and McDonnell Douglas in the commercial transport field. However, Lockheed is still a major producer of military aircraft.
History Museum in Kansas City, MO has an L-1011 in its
Salt Lake City - Skyjacking
1972 - A man successfully hijacked a B-737 from Salt Lake City to
Los Angeles to Cuba.
May 16, 1972 - President Nixon signed into law the Air Traffic Controllers Career Program Act (An outgrowth of a Corson Committee recommendation). The new law authorized controllers to retire after 25 years of active duty, or at age 50 if they had 20 years of active service. It also established a mandatory age for retirement at 56, with exemptions up to age 61. The Act also provided for a "second career program" of up to two years of training, at government expense, for controllers who had to leave traffic control work because of medical or proficiency disqualification.
The DC-9's occupants included three pilots and an
FAA inspector, all of whom were killed in the crash and subsequent
FAA promptly implemented new changes to the minimum distance that aircraft
must maintain when following 'heavy' aircraft.
Longest Distance Skyjacking
(In American Aviation History) - (7,000+ Miles)
1972 - Western Airlines
Boeing-727, Flight #701,
from Los Angeles to Seattle was skyjacked by Ex-Black Panthers: Willie Roger Holder, (African-American Vietnam veteran) and his white, stripper, girlfriend (masseuse and small-time drug dealer) Catherine Marie Kerkow. The skyjacker commandeered the B-727 when he claimed he had a bomb in an attaché case and demanded $500,000, and a longer-range jet in San Francisco.
Stewardess Gina Cutcher was confronted by the passenger from 18D, a handsome black man in a crispy pressed Army Captain's uniform with several ribbons. Skyjacker Willie Holder gave her two 3x5 cards and said "read this". The first card was a poorly handwritten list of instructions for the crew.
The 2nd Card was a drawing of what
appeared to be a briefcase and writing to the left describing U.S. Army
plastic explosives; a clock, batteries, and a concussion hand grenade with
a 1-second delay after the pin is pulled.
Crutcher was told to take the notes to the cockpit, and that she had just two minutes.
Captain Jerome Juergens gave the notes to his co-pilot, Edward Richardson, and calmly told Cutcher: "Go back and tell this man we'll comply with anything he wants us to do."
Skyjacker Willie Holder 24, demanded, in addition to $500,000 in cash and a longer-range jet in San Francisco, the release of black militant Angela Davis, an American political activist, scholar and author.
She was a candidate twice for Vice President on the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1980s.
originally demanded the release of Angela Davis, but made no mention of
that demand as the hijacking progressed.
Mr. Holder served with distinction in Vietnam. he flew with the 68th
Catherine Marie KERKOW, 20
Ms. Kerkow in high school in Oregon, hijacked Western Flt. #701, arrested
in Paris, France
in San Francisco, when the Skyjackers received the $500,000 and
a four-engine Western Airlines Boeing-720 jet, they released 40 of the
98 passengers and crew of 7.
at JFK Airport in New York, to refuel for the long trip across
the Atlantic Ocean, Skyjacker Willie Holder demanded and got a navigator
to guide the jet carrying 4 crew members to Algiers, Algeria (a haven for
After 20 hours, Western Airlines Flight #701 from Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York City, finally landed in Algiers, Algeria.
A USA Federal Grand Jury indicted Willie Roger Holder and Catherine Marie Kerkow on charges of air piracy and kidnapping. The penalty for each count is 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Skyjackers Willie Holder and Cathy Kerkow were taken into custody by the Algerians, who also returned all but about $20,000. of the ransom money to Western Airlines. Algeria granted the skyjackers political asylum.
However, a request for extradition was
denied as the government of Algeria allowed them to stay. Three months
later Skyjacker Willie Holder was proclaimed the leader of a small band of
Black Panthers exiled in Algeria.
France, January 1975 - Skyjackers Holder and Kerkow, according
to passports retrieved by French police, had made several trips to France,
but this time they had a problem with the law, and were arrested. In
Washington, the FBI identified the pair as Willie Roger Holder and
Catherine Marie Kerkow.
An FBI spokesman said extradition was being pressed by the Justice and
State Departments. He said the pair was indicted by Federal Grand Juries
in New York and San Francisco on charges including air piracy, kidnapping
While in Paris, they were supported by the French intellectual establishment, and treated as national celebrities. However Holder experienced bouts of paranoia and anxiety and spent time in a Marxist Psychiatric Institute outside of Paris. In 1984 he met and married "a six-time divorcee, 12 years his senior" who was paralyzed on one side of her body.
Ms. Kerkow became a
part of the Parisian creative elite, became fluent in French, and enjoyed
life with a series of wealthy boyfriends before vanishing forever one
night in 1978.
again back at JFK Airport in New York - 1986
An Air France
flight brought Willie Holder, now 38 years old, back to the United States.
He was escorted by French security officers who
turned him over to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Willie Holder was held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center
pending arraignment in Federal Court in Brooklyn. He served 3 years in
detention before he was transferred to a halfway house in San Diego, CA.
forward to 1991 in San Diego - Willie Holder was arrested again
in an alleged plot to hijack another passenger jet with the use of plastic
explosives. Now 42, and unemployed, Willie was arrested in an apartment
that he shared with his wife and brother.
Although he was under investigation for planning another hijacking, Holder was instead charged with violating his federal parole. Holder allegedly asked an undercover agent from the California Bureau of Organized Crime and Criminal intelligence to help him obtain C-4 plastic explosives and various firearms and ammunition. He was introduced to the agent by an informant, and intended to hijack a passenger jet at San Diego's Lindbergh Field and demand "millions in ransom."
Federal prosecutors in New York, where Holder had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of air piracy, were undecided whether or not to pursue charges connected to the alleged hijacking plot.
On February 6, 2012, Willie Roger Holder died of a burst aneurysm. PFC
US ARMY VIETNAM was buried in Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery in San
Fugative - (Last seen in 1978)
She probably changed her lifestyle and may still be in France or possibly Switzerland.
Skies Belong to Us" Love
and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking - New book
Author Brendan I. Koerner writes the yarn about this 1972 hijacking, after several years of research and reviewing many documents and records including FBI files.
Flying was a different world back then, in 1972. No X-Ray machines, no metal detectors, no TSA personnel, no inconveniences. You could smoke on the planes, and some airlines even allowed you to buy your tickets after takeoff.
Skyjackers took advantage of this lack of security, and were often disgruntled veterans, compulsive gamblers, bankrupt businessmen, career felons, and Cubans wanting to go back to Havana. In most cases, they demanded are received ransoms and wanted fresh starts someplace else.
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Last revised: April 24, 2019
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