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1986 Pan Am Hijacking At Karachi  
User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5606 times:

Do you think the pilots who abandoned the aircraft and left their passengers and crew at the mercy of armed gunmen who later massacred some in a shoot out were right in their action? for those who dont know in September 86 a Pan Am 747 operationg Bombay-Karachi-Frankfurt-NewYork was hijacked at Karachi airport by armed Palestinians who entered the bay area posing as airport security force complete with uniforms and I.D cards, they boarded the aircraft after scaring away the guards posted near it by firing indescriminately in the air there were 300 plus passengers and crew on board, the entire cockpit crew managed to escape through the emergency hatch of the cockpit, later failed negotiations led the frustrated hijackers to open fire on the passengers resulting in many deaths, experst say that the Capt and flight crew should not have abandoned the aircraft Confused

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57 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineFaisZ From Singapore, joined Sep 2000, 106 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5507 times:

Although considered a cowardly act by some, you only get to live once and obviously these guys felt that the risk was too much. Before you jump to any conclusions, think about what you would do in these circumstanses. If you don't agree, please spare me the heroism and pardon my bias.

User currently offlineG-CIVP From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1552 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5494 times:

If I remember rightly the Pakistani security services/police were rather slow in reaching the striken plane, when the hijackers started murdering the passengers and crew after negotiations for their safe release had failed/broken down. I think this is where criticism should be directed.

User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5485 times:

The pilots didn't leave the aircraft out of cowardice, it was to reduce the bargaining chips held by the hijackers. A 747 without pilots is just a poorly-ventilated series of rooms that happens to cost $135m. Getting out of the situation was a pleasant by-product of their action but it wasn't why they left. Pan Am crews were made of sterner stuff than that and always did what was best for their aircraft and passengers. Not cowards.

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5473 times:

Alot of people in this part of the world thought that the crew abandoned the aircraft because 95 percent of the passengers and cabin crew were of South Asian descent and the White American pilots didnt really care nor did the American Govt. otherwise the negotiations would never have failed Confused

.....up there with the best!
User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5468 times:

My dad has done a lot of work reviewing security procedures to be followed in the event of a hijack, and the unanimous agreement is for the flight crew to exit the aircraft as early as possible. A hijacked aircraft is useless when it can't fly and historically that has provided additional leverage during negotiations.

I think the flight crew did the right thing - not out of cowardice, but out of prudence. The loss of life could have been potentially greater had the aircraft been flown to a different country and a similar ending played out.

User currently offlineGreg From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5448 times:

What possible relevance does this have fourteen years after the fact?

Pan Am is out of business.

User currently offlineN202PA From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1577 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5446 times:

I'm sure it matters to the hundreds of people on the aircraft that were affected by this tragedy, especially the families of those who were killed.

User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5430 times:

I think 14 people were killed on the plane including an Indian actress who was also a PA FA who sheilded 3 kids from getting shot. Unfortionatly; the FA had died but she got the highest bravery award by the Indian gov that could be given to civilians for their heroism. Gaod bless her. I personally think the pilots did have just cause to jump out of the plane. Should the shooting happen while the 747 was in the air. Everyone would've died. But it was only 14 instead of everyone because this was on the ground with the doors open. I think the plane was a 747SP not a 747-100. The plane I think was called Clipper New Horizons or Horizon. Does anyone know what had happened to this plane. I know that after the shooting PA had it fixed up and back in service 6 months later.

User currently onlineAmerican 767 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4638 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5428 times:

No, it was not an SP, it was a 100. I remember seeing it on television. The SP's were flown on TransPacific routes only. And at the time of the hijack in Karachi, all 11 SP's were sold already to United.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium

Ben Soriano
User currently offlineHugo From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 400 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5427 times:

This is a forum. People post and respond to what is interesting to them. Some things are relevant to others...don't respond if you find it inconsequential.

B747-437B is correct: The pilots left the aircraft to disable it...Standard security procedure. It was the Indian purser that was killed who notified the pilots of the hijackers on board. Because the idiot hijackers did not realize the cockpit was on the upper deck, she was able to stall them, thereby allowing the pilots to escape via the cockpit hatch. She was also credited for notifying the cabin crew to put all doors on "automatic", an action that allowed many passengers to slide to safety.

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5418 times:

I'm not sure what the original name of the aircraft was, but it was renamed "Clipper Neerja Bhanot" in memory of the purser who was killed in the incident.

User currently offlineLatinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2806 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5421 times:

It's quite insulting and outrageous to hear the fact that many people think that the American gov. or the airlines' "white pilots" didn't care for the passengers just because most of them were of east asian nationality.

They need to use their displaced anger and direct it toward the correct cause. The palestinian terrorist and the Karachi airport security system that was in charge of the security at the time.

I've heard outrageous Anti-American sentiments here and all over the place that just don't make sense. Like during the egyptian pyramid terrorist attack a few years ago. I couldn't belive what I was hearing when tunning on CNN, this ignorant woman on the street of Cairo blaiming Americans for what had happened.

User currently offlineFlyerC_B757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5413 times:


I was born in 1986, so I don't remember! This was a tragic incident, and the flight crew made bad calls.

User currently offlinePilot_man From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 5397 times:

Guys, I understand that this hijacking was a tragic, but still, what happened, happened.
As far as the pilots are concerned, if I was one of them, I wouldn't have abadoned the plane even if it cost my life.

User currently offlineAmbasaid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (15 years 2 months 1 week ago) and read 5397 times:

Would a PIA crew have acted any differently given the opportunity?

FlyerC_B757 and Pilot_man, go back and read B747-437B's first posting very carefully, you could also do a search on messages posted by him to find out who his father is. You will find that the crew actions are now standard practice in any hijacking, its the easiest way to turn a plane in to a building.

User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5385 times:

So none of you here think the situation would've ended differently had the passengers and crew been Americans not of the immigrant kind? I think it would've, nor would the flight crew have abandoned the aircraft, no offence to Americans here but thats the sad truth, and I agree with Pilot_man I myself would never have abandoned the aircraft and the people onboard if I had been the pilot, rather die with honour than having lived like a coward Smile

.....up there with the best!
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 17, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5383 times:

Airmale, Pilot_man, FlyerC_757, you guys would be dangerous liabilities in a hijacking or other emergency. Haven't you read the posts by 747-437 et al? You are obviously not interested in what would be the best course of action (ie disable the flight by robbing it of pilots), only some perverted journey to personal glory involving dying like a martyr at the expense of the lives of your passengers. And as for the nonsense about the nationalities of the passengers, I doubt the pilots would have known - they're onboard before the pax, and this crew would have flown in from Germany and the US with a plane load of Americans so if they had visualised the predominant skin colour in the cabin at all I suspect that colour would have been white. But the racist argument is ridiculous, aircrew (especially PAN AM!)spend their lives in other countries and are 99% colourblind before they're out of line training.

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineAmbasaid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5382 times:


Would you care to answer my question, "would a PIA crew have acted any differently"?

It still amazes me that people in this part of the world can turn everything around to blame the US, is this an ability that you learn or are you born with it?

User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 5375 times:

Cant say Ambasaid, but chances are they would, Cedarjet no one wants to die even as a martyr I can assure you of that, I certainly would not abandon my aircraft and passengers if i was the Captain the reason they got agitated was because the flight crew had escaped and besides those people would not have been hurt had the crew stayed on as most were Pakistani and Indian amongst others, as you can take note from the December 1984 hijack of a Karachi bound Kuwait Airways A310 to Tehran also by Palestinians, that flight too was carrying 99 percent Pakistani passengers all of whom were realeased unharmed, sadly two American diplomats were killed in that incident.

.....up there with the best!
User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 5357 times:

I was thinking about myself being in a similar situation and came up with this, Id be scared for sure, of losing my life(no i dont want to be a martyr), my dream job which made me capt. of a 747 of a major airline after decades of hard work and sacrifice, the travel, the pay, the perks, my family and friends my joy for life, my wanderlust, my dreams but at the same time i could not live with myself for taking such a cowardly decision of abandanning the very people whom id be flying, who put their lives in my hands, personally for me company rules and regulations and standard procedures dont apply in such siutations i go with what i feel is right, and take full responsibility for my actions, i dont care if the rest of the flight crew escaped being the captain i wouldve stayed on and gone down with the ship, take the example of the F/A Neerja Banoth from this very incident , she was young and beautiful and had alot more going for her in life than working for an ailing airline, she couldve looked forward to a better package from the Gulf carriers, she couldve jumped off the plane and run for her life with the flight crew, she could've hidden herself and let those children be killed, but she didnt, it was her decision as an individual to do what was right and she did it, im sure she never wanted to be a martyr or have a plane be christened after her, but thats what she felt was the right thing to do and a self less act indeed, i really respect her and admire her courage, may she rest in peace-ameen, another example is of the PIA stewardess who stayed on with the hostages on a hijacked PK 720B in Afghanistan even though she was asked to leave with the rest of the female crew and women and children who were on the plane, that situation couldve turned ugly too but she accepted the consequences, not caring for her life, besides this hijacking was a one off case where the flight crew escaped because the stupid hijackers did not know that the cockpit on a 747 is on the upper deck, there have never been cases where the pilots have escaped before and nor will there ever be, so it clearly proves that this "standard procedure " was a failure from the start and proved fatal, i could never respect any one who abandonned ship to save their life when others needed him (even if it was my own father was in a similar situation as the PA Capt. i wouldnt have respected him) in many hijacking cases the Capt has played a pivotal role in handling the hijackers and keeping them from harming passengers as best as he could, I dont know how this one and the rest of the flight crew can live with themselves, maybe they dont have a concience, or ethical/moral values and rules and regulations were more important to them then the lives of the very people who trusted them to fly them safely to their destination.Those men were "BayGhairat' as we call them here Smile

.....up there with the best!
User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 5351 times:

It´s very easy for you to say now, sitting at home in your cozy chairs in front of your computers, "oh, what a coward, I´d never have done that yaddayaddayadda...". I for sure would be scared shitless in such a situation and run as fast and as far away as I could. I´m not necessarily saying you´d join me in every case, maybe you ARE one of those heroes, but it seems highly probable.
Cowards live longer than heroes, by the way.
(And it wasn´t even cowardice, disregarding all regulations you mention, but a very natural [and prudent] act of self-preservation.)

Daniel Smile

User currently offlineInitRef From India, joined Nov 2000, 118 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 5352 times:

I can understand the emotional reasons you have outlined, however as others have pointed out - standard responses to such situations are to REMOVE options for hijackers/hostage takers. These policies are not about bravery, martyrdom or courage - they are about practicality and saving passengers' lives.

As such most airlines have policy that mandates flight crew to escape or immobilize their aircraft. The last thing most hostage negotiators/law enforcement want is for the hijackers to leave for yet another destination. It is NOT about saving flightcrew lives in preference to pax. I don't believe racism, xenophobia or any such thing had an impact in this incident.

Do you know any pilots at PIA or domestic Pakistani airlines? Rest your mind by asking them what their policy is, and what they would individually have done (as Ambasaid requested earlier) - granted it may be difficult to get this info - since airlines don't like "publishing" their hijack response actions.

Whether the USA acted appropriately during the actual negotiations is a different issue - that does not mean its OK to cast aspersions against the flight crew - just because they happen to be American.

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 5341 times:

This thread is actually beginning to get my blood boiling, because the people spouting off jingoistic nonsense are usually pretty sober and respectable.

I have experience in Law Enforcement (although my hostage negotiation experience is limited to a short seminar I attended, thankfully!) and my dad has been on multiple committees that reviewed safety procedures to be followed in the event of a hijacking. This is not merely theory to me, it is a procedure that my family lives with on a daily basis. So I will take it personally when you attack it without justification.

Obviously, I cannot go into specifics about what anti-hijacking procedures are, but ANYONE who has studied hijackings knows that there has never been a hijacking succesfully resolved in mid-air unless it is before the first touchdown. The mid-air resolutions usually involve a fatality, even if that fatality is the hijacker - and creates an additional risk to the passengers as a result. In some situations (such as the Ethiopian Airlines one), the fatalities are exacerbated by remaining aloft too long.

On the other hand, the risks are immensely reduced by staying on the ground. Take this very same PanAm example - if the same terrorists had opened fire at 35000 feet, the fatalities would have included EVERYONE ON BOARD, rather than just the few unfortunates that it did. You have to assume that the hijackers you are dealing with are unstable and hence prone to sudden decisions which may appear illogical to you. You also have to assume that the hijackers are ready to carry out their threats and accordingly counter it to make it as difficult as possible for them to do so, without appearing directly obstructive.

The flight crew did exactly that. By exiting the aircraft, they did not cost the lives of 14 people, but rather saved the lives of 286 others.

It STUNS ME that someone as educated as yourself could assign blame to some of the few people who did the right thing under the circumstances. Yes, maybe the US Government did not negotiate in good faith (but I don't think good faith was ever part of the Reagan vocabulary when dealing with terrorists), but to single out crew members who did their job WELL is ludicrous.

The true blame for this incident lies with no one other than the Pakistani authorities (whose record on anti-terrorism is far for exemplary on many other counts as well) who allowed the security breach to happen, as well as the Palestinians who sanctioned and performed the operation. Do not try and turn it around for whatever reason to make the victims into the villians, because it just reflects badly upon YOU!

User currently offlineAmbasaid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (15 years 2 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 5336 times:


As you have decided to stay onboard the aircraft in your new role as Captain, try to picture what could have happened next........

The aircraft would have left Karachi bound for who knows where, maybe Beirut, on landing the hijackers would have received reinforcements as well as supplies, (as in the PA B747 hijacking in 1980, where the aircraft was destroyed). This now means that there is absolutely no chance of removing them by force so negotiations would have to begin regarding their demands, if these demands could not be met, I think that you would have seen a lot more bodies on the tarmac.

But this didn’t happen because the original Captain decided to ground the aircraft, therefore giving the control to the ground based authorities, they had the opportunity to control the situation, they didn’t and people died. Maybe you should divert your anger in their direction.

Now would you like to tell us which experts you were referring to in your original message?

25 Indianguy : The purser, Neerja Mishra/Bhanot was not an actress. A very brave lady.
26 Post contains images Pilot_man : Hello there, I am saying that if the terrorists killed pax because they were angry over the escapings of the pilots, I would rather have stayed. Besid
27 AT : I was living in Karachi at the time, and yes, it was a 747-100, not SP. If my memory serves me correctly, I recall the news reporting that t at some p
28 Pilot_man : With all the respects to all the users, who read and write on this topic, I would like to say the following... "It is true, that I would be scared, bu
29 VirginA340 : For those of you who who think that the pilots were wrong in abandoning the plane. Did it ever entered your minds to think on what would happen if the
30 B747-437B : Pilot_man - with all due respect, Islamic tenets have no place in a hijacking incident, regardless how relevant they may be to your life otherwise.
31 Post contains images Airmale : B747-437B religious tenets have everything to do with situations where others are in trouble, anyways since majority of you here have the same view i
32 Ambasaid : Airmale, I can just imagine the blood bath if the Americans sent commandos into Beirut after this aircraft. I guess that i should tell you that the la
33 Post contains images Airmale : Me A racist Asian!!! a Tan supremist!! thats news.As for the dumb hijackers they might as well have taken over a New York bound PIA flight, little did
34 Whistler_CYOW : You are pretty racist airmale. Saying that all whites are racists IS racism.
35 Post contains images Airmale : Please dont get the wrong idea, Im not being racist, what word should i use? will Caucasian be better? for your information we Asians are also conside
36 B747-437B : Airmale : Cut your losses and shut up before you make an even bigger fool of yourself. Now that you have been defeated by logic, you have no option bu
37 Alpha 1 : A few points. Airmale: racists come in all colors, races, religions. Just because you're Asain doesn't make you impervious to such feelings. We ALL ha
38 Alpha 1 : Pilot_Man, my PERSONAL religious convictions, no matter how strong and heartfelt they are, could NEVER EVER get in the way of policies that are design
39 Whistler_CYOW : So the evil imperialist american govt flexed their racist muscle by banning all movies about the hijacked Pan Am flight because it was full of asians?
40 Post contains images Airmale : By the way I love America and Americans
41 Ambasaid : The following is taken from “Fasten your seatbelts” the history of FA’s in Pan Am. Neerja Bhanot was in charge of the first class ca
42 Pilot_man : Airmale: Even though you are on my respected users list, I would frankly say that your comments are pretty racist. Racist in a sense that you are sayi
43 Pilot_man : Besides, I believe it would of no use to me to argue using ISLAM in public places like this where everybody, including me, write as I wish.
44 VirginA340 : Pilot_man. In case you didn't read my last post. Your negociations wouldn't do jack because once your hijacked plane is over a maor city like Delhi, B
45 Ambasaid : Pilot_boy If you dont want to argue about certain things such as islam, then dont come out with stupid statements like this. "It is true, that I would
46 Taliban : Hello all, I believe that what Airmale and pilot_man has to say is wrong. If the pilots didn't exit the aircraft, then the hijackers might have asked
47 VirginA340 : Taliban; Dude; Read the rest of the posts before commenting; the PA flight attendent died while trying to save three kids from a hail of gunfire. Whic
48 Post contains images Ryanair : Ahhhhhhh.......!!!!!!!!!! (That's better) My understanding of the procedture in a hijacking for the pilots is as has been said, the cockpit crew shoul
49 Post contains images Airmale : Its all starting to make sense now, but as an individual the Captain atleast should've stayed onboard as a moral obligation, im sure he alone would no
50 Post contains images Airsicknessbag : "Taliban", how sick must you be to take this user name? Why didn´t you take "Stalin" or "Pol Pot" or "Adolf Hitler"??? I hope you will be banned. Air
51 Ambasaid : Airmale, You really don’t want to listen, do you???? You have decided that the Captain abandoned those passengers due to their skin colour and n
52 Alpha 1 : Can anything penetrate that thick coconut of yours? You just don't get it do you? It has nothing to do with "moral obligation", or skin color, or show
53 Post contains images Airmale : Why are you all getting so worked up
54 Alpha 1 : I'm not worked up about it myself, but I can't understand after you've read a zillion times on here that standard proceedure is to get off the aircraf
55 Alpha 1 : I think you comments are a little out of line. You just lumped every Palastinian and every Muslim into one big, convenient group to fit you stereotype
56 Alpha 1 : Crimes committed in the name of God or religion have never gone away! Ever! We're no more "mature" than we were 2000 years ago when it comes to that.
57 Post contains images Taliban : Hello there, Virgin A340: I was replying to those dudes who thought that she was just a martyr. I also believed that what Indian Govt. awarded her wit
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