Hijacking a plane provides criminals with a perfect opportunity to advance their interests using passengers in the hijacked aircraft as their bargaining chips. Indeed, in the past, criminal elements have successfully secured the release of prisoners using this very approach. However, isolated instances of hijackings in the recent past clearly indicate that aircraft hijackers are becoming more daring, brazen, and creative. This text concerns itself with the history of airline hijackings.
Airline Hijackings: An Overview
Aircraft hijacking according to Ciottone (2006) “is defined as the armed takeover of an aircraft.” According to the author, most of the hijackings that took place before the September 11 terror attacks mostly used the unfortunate passengers of a hijacked plane as hostages and the hijacked aircraft as a means of transportation. However, as I have already pointed out in the introductory section, this trend seems to be changing. Indeed, the September terror attacks clearly demonstrated that planes could easily be used as ‘guided missiles’ to bring about widespread destruction. According to Holanda (2009), during “the formative years of passenger flight…the concept of hijacking commercial airliners had not yet occurred to anyone.” As the author further points out, most people viewed airline hijacking as an undertaking full of unnecessary risks. In that regard, most people were convinced that such a high level of risk could not justify the rewards. All this started to change in the 1960s. It is however important to note that although the 1960s saw a sustained increase in cases of hijackings, several other successful aircraft takeover attempts had been made before. The following section conducts a comprehensive review of airline hijackings and how they have evolved over time.
History of Airline Hijackings
In the words of Ciottone (2006), “the first recorded aircraft hijacking occurred in 1931 in Peru…” In this particular case, armed revolutionaries were intent on forcing an aircraft pilot to take them to their intended destination. However, as I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, hijackings started becoming rather common in the 1960s. Indeed, prior to 1968, the number of documented hijackings in the U.S. stood at only 12 (Fay, 1993). In 1968 alone, there were a total of 22 hijackings. It is also important to note that the utilization of aircraft hijacking as a terrorism tool gained prominence in the 1960s (Kushner, 2002). As the author points out, terrorists could take control of aircrafts, hold passengers hostage and make political demands as so as to release the said passengers and aircraft.
In the opinion of Kushner (2002), “press reports have placed the number of airplane hijackings thought history to about 1,000.” This is not a small number by any standards. In an attempt to further bring historical hijackings into perspective, it would...