In 1968, and for five years after, commercial jets were hijacked nearly once a week. Journalist Brendan Koerner tells the story of this criminal epidemic, focusing on the madcap story of a young couple who pulled off the longest distance hijacking in U.S. history. Forum talks with Koerner about the radical 1970s, the country’s skyjacking epidemic, and the evolution of aviation security at the time.

The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan I. Koerner – Excerpt by Crown Publishing Group

Brendan Koerner, author of "The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking," and contributing editor for Wired

  • Clytie S

    An interesting story about the bizarre skyjack attempt with the reference to Angela Davis. However, I as very disappointed that Krasny failed to remind the author that Professor Davis is not a “was” but a distinguished scholar who remains committed to our civil rights. Surely, Michael has made the Professor’s acquaintance.

  • Robert Thomas

    I still think of the days when a baked, barefoot surfer could wander onto an AirCal flight in San Jose and end up in Long Beach, for the price of the change he had in his pocket, as the Golden Era of Aviation.

    The convulsion of security applied to U.S. air travel since 2001 has served to protect air travel business from ruinous publicity and costly interruption, but has reduced the danger to the flying public an infinitesimal amount. If airlines had taken cockpit security at all seriously before 2001 (I can tell you, calls for this were vociferous in the 1970s; they were flatly rebuffed by the airlines, due to cost, but *especially* to the perceived burden of inconvenience to pilots), vicious thugs could have terrorized or even killed an airplane full of people but the conflagrations of September 11 could never have happened.

    The things I hear from anyone connected to the “New America Foundation” and from journalists of “Wired” and the like invariably make me feel that contributors to these institutions could accurately appear under the entry for “callow” in Webster’s (Wiktionary?).

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