Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cold Condor

South America has one claim to fame, which I'm sure it'd rather not have. Before the Second World War it seems to have been the source of most aircraft hijackings. The first aircraft hijacking in recorded history was in Peru. On February 21st 1931 a Ford Trimotor belonging to Pan-American Airlines* landed at Arequipa, after leaving Lima earlier that day. As the pilot, Byron Rickards, landed the plane he saw a group of rebels emerge from behind a hangar and surround his craft. The people on the plane were imprisoned, and Mr Rickards was informed that a revolution was under way, and that the plane would now be used for transport and leaflet dropping. Mr Rickards later was to comment on how polite the revolutionaries had been with their request, however he refused to let his plane be so used. This stand off continued for ten days, until Mr Rickards, and his crew and passengers were released when the revolution succeeded, he was then asked to carry one of the hijackers to Lima on his return flight. History doesn't record if he did or not. It does record that Mr Rickards was given a payment of $100 by Pan-Am as a thank you. History also records that Mr Rickards was the first captain of a plane to be hijacked twice. On the 3rd of August 1961 Mr Rickards was hijacked by two males at El Paso airport, who were demanding his 707 passenger airline be flown to Cuba. The FBI shot out the plane's tyres and so brought the incident to an end. In another “first” the hijackers were the first to be sentenced for hijacking in the US.
Modern Ford Tri-Motor
The second ever hijacking was in Brazil, on September the 25th 1932. When three men related to the communist revolution of the time, took a fourth hostage in a hanger, and stole a S-38 Amphibian. Exact details are much harder to establish as none of the men involved were pilots, and so unsurprisingly the plane crashed and all were killed.
Sikorsky S-38, not the ugliest aircraft ever (Blackburn hold that title) but certainly an honourable mention.
So where am I going with this, well it's a lead in to Operation Condor. Before you start worrying I'll not be talking about the unpleasantness of the decade long campaign of killings that came about under that name. But an earlier "Operation Condor", which was semi-military in nature.

On September 28th 1966 thirty five passengers boarded a flight at Buenos Aires heading towards Rio Gallegos. The plane was a DC-4, and eighteen of the men were scrap metal union members, one was a Journalist called Dardo Cabo. The later had links to the scrap metal union, being the leader's Son. He'd also been part of a extremely right wing youth group. After the plane had taken off all nineteen men revealed their cache of weapons and hijacked the plane. From there they forced the pilot to head towards the Falklands islands. Their plan, to capture the islands for Argentina.
Thus later that day the quiet of Port Stanley was shattered by a DC-4 roaring in out of the grey gloom, low over the town. Most alarmingly for the islanders was the Argentinian markings the plane carried. At the time there was no airport at Port Stanley, so Cabo had ordered the pilots to land on the racecourse, and so the plane dug farrows through the soft earth as it tried to skid to a stop.
Perplexed two local officials approached the plane, and were met by the scrap metal workers spilling from the plane weapons in hand, and were immediately taken prisoner.

At the time the Falkland Islands were defended by a volunteer group, lightly armed with rifles. However they had a section of six Royal Marines to train them. These men quickly armed themselves and deployed to surround the plane.  When they arrived they found that the Argentinians had planted a flag on the racecourse, and a tense stand off ensued, with no more than the odd harsh word exchanged between the Defenders and the invaders.

As was noted by the commandant of the US marine corps in 1980 "Amateurs talk about tactics, professionals study logistics." The hijackers had failed to consider the logistics of their situation. The Falklands is not a warm climate, grey, rain soaked and above all cold. The defenders had the support of the locals (which translated to hot food and drink in constant supply) and bad weather gear, the invaders only what they had on the plane. After thirty six hours, including a night huddled under the wing of the DC-4 a catholic priest was sent over to give Mass. After which the Argentinians surrendered, and were returned to their home land.
 The result was the Royal Marine troops on the Falklands were increased to a full platoon, and there was even more distrust from the Falkland islanders towards Argentina, which over the next fifteen years would scupper any moves to solve the problem politically. Ironically, again, another incident involving scrap metal workers raising a flag on South Georgia Island in early 1982 led to the Falklands War.
Cabo Received three years in prison, and carried on his activist lifestyle merging the youth movement with another terrorist organisation, and was later executed in 1977 by the then ruling Junta.
The flag raised by the Hijackers was used by Cristina Fernandez in 2013 at a press conference.

*Pan-American airlines is also, more commonly known as Pan-Am, has a bit of history in this regard to incidents. As well as the first hijacking in history, it also held the deadliest air disaster in history and was the operator of the plane destroyed by the Lockerbie bomb. There was also a Hijacking incident in Karachi which left 20 dead and 120 wounded.

Image Credits:
www.aviastar.org, www.prop-liners.com and www.diariomardeajo.com.ar