10 Most Terrifying Aviation Hijackings in the World

Can you imagine being on a plane that has been hijacked. It will always be a terrifying experience for you. The world’s first flight hijacking was occurred on 28th October 1939. Between 1948 and 1957, 15 planes were hijacked which climbed to 48 in between 1958-1967. In 1969, 82 planes were hijacked which was the largest in number and the worst year in aviation history. Since 1939, hundreds of airplanes were hijacked. In most of the cases, the pilot was forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers, but in a few cases, the plane was hijacked by its own pilot or co-pilot. Here are the most terrifying aviation hijackings in the world which creates a doubt on: “flight is the safest way to travel”.

Aviation Hijackings in the World

10. Nepal Plane Hijack 1973

The 1973 Nepal plane hijack was the first hijacking case in the history of Nepal. On 10th June 1973, 19 seater royal airline was hijacked by three members of the Nepali Congress. Hijackers took 3 million Indian Rupees that belonged to the Nepalese Government and forced the pilot to land the plane in Bihar. Within a year, all hijackers were arrested in India but they were released on bail.

9. Malaysia Airlines Flight 653

Malaysia Airlines Flight 653Image credit: Wikimedia

Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 was hijacked on 4th December 1977 when the plane flown from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. After the aircraft diverted to Singapore by hijacker, it was accidentally crashed at Tanjung Kupang. All 93 passengers and 7 crew members were killed in the crash. Some source’s stats that the Red Army was responsible for the hijacking and the circumstances in which the crash occurred remain unsolved

8. Singapore Airlines Flight 117

Singapore Airlines Flight 117Image credit: wikimedia

The Singapore airlines flight 117 was hijacked on 26th march 1991 by four passengers of Pakistan. The plane was hijacked in the air while going to the Singapore Changi airport. Hijackers demanded to release the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari. When the hijackers’ demands were not fulfilled, they start threatening the passengers. Fortunately, at the correct time commandos entered the plane, killed all the hijackers and released all 123 passengers.

7. France Airlines Flight 8969

France Airlines Flight 8969Image credit: wikimedia

The airline flight 8969 of France was hijacked on 24th December 1994 by the four members of the Armed Islamic Group. The plane was hijacked at Houari airport, Algeria. They demanded the release of two Islamic Salvation Front political party leaders, Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj. When their demands not fulfilled, they killed three passengers and target to blow up the plane on Eiffel Tower. Three days later, special operation units of France, GIGN got into the plane and killed all four hijackers.

6. El Al Flight 426

El Al Flight 426Photo credit: wikimedia

El Al Flight 426, a passenger plane was hijacked on 23rd July 1968 by three members of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine group (PFLP). The plane was on its regular route from Heathrow airport to Leonardo da vinci airport. Hijackers forced the pilot with a pistol to divert the plane to Algiers. Five weeks later, all passengers were released in exchange for 16 Arab terrorists.

5. Lufthansa Flight 181

"Landshut"-Entführung, Rückkehr GSG 9Photo credit: wikimedia

Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Boeing 737, hijacked on 13th October 1977 by four militants. Their intention behind the hijacking was to release imprisoned Red Army leaders. Five days later, on October 18, the aircraft was taken over by the West German anti-terrorist group, GSG 9 in Somalia. All 86 passengers were rescued and four people were killed including three hijackers and one crew member.

4. Iraqi Airways Flight 163

Iraqi Airways Flight 163Image source: wikimedia

The Iraqi airways flight 163 was a Boeing 737 passenger aircraft, hijacked on 25th December 1986. The plane was on its regular route from Baghdad international airport to Amman. Hijackers detonated two grenades in passenger cabin and cockpit, causing the plane to crash in Saudi Arabia where it broke in two pieces and caught fire. This was one of the deadliest aviation accidents in which 63 people died.

3. Indian Airlines Flight 814

Indian Airlines Flight 814Image source: wikipedia

Indian Airlines Flight 814 was an Indian Airbus A300, hijacked on 24th December 1999 by a terrorist group, Harkat ul Mujahideen. Hijackers ordered the aircraft to fly to Amritsar, Lahore, Dubai and finally landed in Kandahar. Their motive is to release three militants which later involved in 9/11 attacks. One passenger died and other hostages were freed after the three hijackers landed in Kandahar.

2. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961Image credit: wikipedia

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961, a Boeing 767 was hijacked on 23rd November 1996 by three Ethiopian men. The aircraft was on its regular route from Sahar international airport to Port Bouet airport. Hijacker takes an axe and a fire extinguisher and hijacked the plane and demanded the plane to be flown to Australia. When the plane was out of fuel, pilot crash landed the plane on shallow water near Mitsamiouli in the Indian Ocean over 200 mph. Total 125 people died of the 175 passengers, including three hijackers.

1. United Airline Flight 175 & 93, American Airline Flight 11 & 77

9-11 attack Image source: wikimedia

Recommended: Deadliest Airline Disasters in History

9/11 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center is the biggest terrorist attack ever. Four passenger airliners, United Airline Flight 175 & 93, American Airline Flight 11 & 77 were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorist group. Two of those planes, American flight 11 and United flight 175 were crashed into both north and south WTC. Third plane, American flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon (headquarter of Department of Defense). Fourth aircraft, United airline flight 93 was planned at Washington DC but crashed into a field. The attack killed 2996 people including 19 hijackers and injured more than 6000 people. The attack also damages $10 billion of property and infrastructure.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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