Dtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (8 years 2 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 2748 times:
I know Uli Derickson left us for a better "line" back at the beginning of '05, but I was very surprised to see she got a large write up in today's New York Times Magazine, as one of the most important people to have died during the year.
Here is a bit of the article, you do have to subscribe to read the rest, although it's free.
"In some ways, the first 20 minutes were the hardest, because she couldn't judge how much worse it might get, or how quickly. Uli Derickson had been preparing to serve drinks to the passengers in first class not long after takeoff when two men barreled down the aisle of the plane, screaming in Arabic and waving around grenades. One put the muzzle of a gun to her head. "What do you want?" she shouted. "I am German. Maybe I can help you." Today, perhaps, there would be no conversation, only a paralyzed silence; but in 1985, hijackers had a history of at least making overtures toward negotiation. These men, Lebanese Shiite Muslims, wanted the release of more than 700 prisoners held by Israel. The flight crew could not help them with that. All the crew could do was take them, as they demanded, from Athens, the departure point of T.W.A. Flight 847, to Beirut and Algiers - rather than to Rome, as planned.
Heroism can happen by chance rather than by choice. The terrorists spoke almost no English, but one spoke German, which meant that Derickson was suddenly responsible for the flight's safety. She was the only crew member able to communicate with the captors. Derickson was 40, a useful age for a woman dealing with two frenzied men in their 20's - young enough to be pleasing yet nearly old enough to be their mother. Though she cried and shook uncontrollably during those first 20 minutes, when the terrorists pistol-whipped the pilot and co-pilot, they told her she wouldn't be hurt. Their assurance didn't exactly soothe her, but it did give her something she could use.
She worked on accepting her responsibility, her mortality. She started strategizing.
Derickson enjoyed a comfortable married life in New Jersey, but she wasn't soft. As a child, she had faced a different form of terror while fleeing with her mother across the border from East to West Germany, sleeping in haystacks by day, fearful of land mines and soldiers and border guards. Now she was an adult, staring down two wild-eyed, scared young men. "No matter how difficult it was, I always looked upon them as human beings," she later told The Los Angeles Times. "If you don't, you might as well give up."
When the plane made its initial landing in Beirut, she made her first move. She pleaded with the terrorists, Let the women go. The terrorists refused. The older women, then, and the children, she insisted. Amazing what can happen if you ask: they relented. Derickson rounded up the selected hostages and coaxed them down the emergency slide, even as they resisted, too terrified to move. Then it was on to Algiers."
F27XXX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2699 times:
She was the definition of the word 'hero' .. even that word doesn't convey it well enough.
This should prove the value of experience when it comes to cabin crew to any of those posters here on A.net who complain in their Trip Reports that the flight crew of their flight weren't young glamour twinks.
Picture some immature 20 yr old -or any of the younger F/As you've come into contact with lately- in the same position as Uli Derekson on that day. I think the outcome would have been far worse for the passengers and crew on that flight.
Unfortunately the airline industry (and by that I mean those that are even hiring - mostly regionals like Mesa) nowadays -and for the past few years now- has been getting what it can afford to pay for - very little.
Sad that the era of people like Uli Derekson is diminishing and replacing her are
so many poor examples that could never be what she was. She was a class act. Experience is what counts.
F27XXX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 2598 times:
Quoting Dtwclipper (Reply 3): But, I found it very moving that the NY Times put her in todays magazine issue about the best and brightest who died in 2005.
It is definitely moving, but also very fitting as well. She's a hero in the truest sense of the word and deserved that honor.
In fact, since you started this thread, I looked in the current issure of People Magazine with with their tribute to important people who passed in 2005. Uli Derekson wasnt mentioned. And not to take away the tribute made to anyone who passed, but she surely deserved a spot here more so than some of the others listed. Ms Derekson's amazing bravery saved lives and that makes her far more worthy of a spot on this -list than some of the others listed in People's tribute - namely some obscure teen starlet wannabe, a writer, a B-grade actress (make that 4 of those), a hairstylist (!?!). A HAIRSTYLIST!??!
That's just offensive and I fired off a letter to the editor of People - for what they'll consider it worth . But it made me feel better!
Unitedtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 2541 times:
Quoting NYT: She pleaded with the terrorists, Let the women go. The terrorists refused. The older women, then, and the children, she insisted. Amazing what can happen if you ask: they relented. Derickson rounded up the selected hostages and coaxed them down the emergency slide, even as they resisted, too terrified to move. Then it was on to Algiers.
Quoting NYT: And she talked to the passengers, reminding them calmly but urgently to do as the hijackers demanded, to stay silent, to keep their heads down. She advocated for the most desperate, the ones who needed the bathroom, or some water, or some more room for a pregnant wife.
The plane landed in Algiers for refueling. The ground crew had no intention of fueling the plane without pay; the terrorists became agitated, threatening violence. Derickson, like a soccer mom on board some minivan from hell, reached into her purse, pulled out her Shell credit card and told them to charge it. They did.
It just goes to show how strong of a person she was. God works in mysterious ways! We were certainly lucky to have her in our industry. May god bless her family and all of those from TWA 847.