April 7, 1994: Federal Express Flight 705 experiences an unsuccessful hijacking. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, designation N306FE was a cargo jet flying out of Memphis, Tennessee heading for San Jose, California. Auburn Calloway was then a 42-year-old FedEx flight engineer. He was a former Navy pilot and an alumnus of Stanford University. He was in danger of being terminated over irregularities in his reporting of flight hours. He was originally scheduled to be the flight engineer on this flight, but he and his crew were one minute over the maximum flying hours the day before. They were replaced by 49 year old Captain David Sanders, 42 year old First Officer James Tucker, and 39 year old flight engineer Andrew Peterson. Tucker was also a designated Captain for FedEx but on this flight he was First Officer. The flight was taking electronic equipment to Silicon Valley.
Calloway hoped to disguise the hijacking as an accident so his family could receive $2.5 million in life insurance. He intended to murder the crew using blunt force and came aboard the plane with two claw hammers, two sledge hammers, and a spear gun hidden inside a guitar case. Just before the flight, Calloway transferred $54,000 in securities and cashier checks to his ex-wife. He also carried on his person a note written to her telling of his despair. He was permitted aboard as a deadheading passenger, a practice allowing members of the airline’s flight crew to travel without charge when they are not working.
He planned to disable the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) by tripping a circuit breaker but it was noticed during the pre-flight check and was reset before takeoff. If he had been able to kill the crew, all he would have needed to do was fly for 30 minutes to erase it since it worked on a 30 minute loop. About 20 minutes after takeoff, with the crew in the midst of casual conversation, Calloway entered the flight deck and began his attack. All three crewmembers were struck several times. Both Peterson and Tucker suffered fractured skulls and Peterson also had a severed temporal artery. The crew fought back while Tucker, also an ex-Navy pilot, performed extreme aerial maneuvers.
Tucker’s fancy flying (inverted and near-transonic flight beyond the design capabilities of the plane) finally enabled the others to subdue Calloway. Sanders took over the controls. Tucker had lost most of the use of the right side of his body by the time he was relieved. He went back to help Peterson hold Calloway while Sanders talked to air traffic control and was given permission for an emergency landing at Memphis International Airport. It took a couple tries but the plane was safely landed. The crew all recovered but none have been certified as medically fit to fly commercially since the attack. They each received the Gold Medal Award for heroism. Calloway, now Prisons Inmate #14601-076, is in Federal prison near Fresno, California.
Attackers exploit the rarity of failures. – Bruce Schneier
Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others. – Niccolo Machiavelli
Even pirates, before they attack another ship, hoist a black flag. – Bela Kiraly
The first casualty of any battle is the plan of attack. – Cory Doctorow
Also on this day: Light My Fire – In 1827, John Walker develops a new match.
Internet Born – in 1969, RFC-1 was published.
WHO’s Your Caregiver? – In 1948, the World Health Organization was founded.
Canadian Assassination – In 1868, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was killed.
Famous American Series – In 1940, Booker T. Washington was placed on a stamp.
* “McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30(F), FedEx JP7375978” by André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters) – Gallery page http://jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=7375978Photo http://images3.jetphotos.net/img/3/9/9/4/20272_1337148499.jpg. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:McDonnell_Douglas_MD-10-30(F),_FedEx_JP7375978.jpg#/media/File:McDonnell_Douglas_MD-10-30(F),_FedEx_JP7375978.jpg