|Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 21):|
Looks like we're back to having 2 different explanations...
From "Howard Hughes' Airline an Informal History of TWA"
"Despite the inevitable occasional friction between an airline and an aircraft manufacturer, TWA and Boeing have always felt mutual admiration. This was evidenced perfectly during the aftermath of the August 29, 1969, hijacking of a TWA flight between Rome and Athens. The hijackers, two Palestinian terrorists, forced Capt. Dean Carter to land at Damascus, Syria, and after everyone was off the plane they blew off the nose with a bomb. Syrian authorities arranged for the passengers and crew to be flown out, except for two Israeli citizens who were on the plane, and Carter refused to leave as long as they were in custody.
Bill Meador, advised in Kansas City that the airplane could be salvaged, contacted Boeing after ascertaining the extent of the damage to the nose. Boeing diverted a nearly completed 707 nose section from its assembly line and stuffed in the wiring, plumbing and instrumentation that fitted TWA's specifications. Wiring and plumbing components were left extra long so the could be pruned later to the required lengths. The nose, mounted in a special jig, was loaded on a "Pregnant Guppy"-an old Stratocruiser modified to carry oversized cargo and looking for all the world like a huge whale with wings. Meanwhile, Meador sent John Geyser of his engineering staff and seven other technicians to Damascus.
It took the Guppy almost nine days to reach Syria. It first ran into headwind delay over the North Atlantic and the weary crew finally decided to take a more southernly route, via Santa Maria in the Azores. TWA had arranged for fast clearances at the various refueling stops over the original route but wasn't advised that the route had been changed until Meador got a cable from Madrid-"There's a strange airplane here claiming to be working for TWA and the want full service for which we have no authorization.
"Give them anything they need and get them on their way fast," Meador cabled back. Meador continues his own account of the Guppy's odyssey.
I heaved a sigh of relief, figuring it was downhill the rest of the way to Damascus. Next thing we knew, we got a wire from Palermo, Sicily-one engine had blown a jug and their repair kit didn't have the right spare parts. They had tried to contact a Pratt and Whitney representative, but that was a little hard to do on a Saturday afternoon in Palermo. We started telephoning around and finally found that spare parts were available at Israeli Aircraft Industries in Tel Aviv. The fellow who located the parts wired Rome that they would be on an El Al flight into Rome and should be flown over to Sicily as soon as possible.
Now we had another problem. We had to let our people in Damascus know what was happening, but we didn't dare mention that Israel and El Al were involved. So the wire we sent to Geyser said the Guppy's parts were on TWA 840 from New York to Rome. John knew instantly that the wire was a cover-up for the benefit of the Syrians.
By now, Boeing had sent fifty-eight technicians to Damascus who were waiting around for the Guppy to arrive. They weren't sitting on their duffs, though. The minute they got to Damascus they started preparing the fuselage for mating to the new section. There was a production break near the forward passenger entry door where the new nose would fit. They cleaned up all the debris and torn metal from that area and jacked up the fuselage, then cut away the old cockpit section at the production break. When the nose finally arrived, they just wheeled it up on a dolly and started welding. It took almost four weeks to connect all the instruments, wiring and hydraulic plumbing.
Geyser didn't have very good communications with us in Kansas City out of Damascus, so Dick Wilson, who was our vice-president in Paris at the time, flew to Syria several times to maintain liaison between John and TWA. He'd fly to Damascus, confer with Geyser and the Boeing people, an then go back to Paris where he'd call us and relay messages.
The Syrians, despite all the diplomatic ramifications, treated us royally. They went out of their way to be kind and gave us all sorts of help. They was only one unpleasant incident involving a Boeing mechanic who started taking pictures of the airport, including a shot of the gun emplacement a hundred yards from our plane. Boeing had briefed its people thoroughly about not taking photographs but this one guy didn't get the message and Geyser nearly had a coronary when it happened. The authorities confiscated the film and gave the mechanic twenty-four hours to leave the country.
TWA sent a flight test crew to Damascus headed by Capt. Lofton Crow, but it was decided to make only one flight out of there-to Rome, where TWA had excellent maintenance facilities and personnel who could check over the repaired 707. It left Damascus carrying Carter and the two Jewish passengers, flew to Rome for a thorough inspection, and then returned to Kansas City where it was examined again before returning to service.
For psychological reasons, TWA changed the aircraft's serial number so no crew member would know he was flying in the patched 707 "with the nose job." Then Meador very quietly had the number changed a second time just in case anyone had caught onto the first switch. One day he encountered a captain who teased him about all the secrecy.
"You thought you were pretty smart, changing that number," he said. "I found out what the new tail number is just by checking the FAA records in Oklahoma City."
"That so?" Meador said. "Have you ever seen in or flown it?"
"No, I've been watching for it, but I haven't seen it yet."
Meador just smiled. "I didn't have the heart to tell him," he chuckles, "that he had just walked off that same airplane."
Ok I'm tired from typing now, but I thought it was an interesting story.
[Edited 2007-03-12 05:43:10]
[Edited 2007-03-12 05:47:21]