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Hijacking: The Darker Side of Aviation

written by: Ricky•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 5/30/2011

The thrill and convenience of flying in an aeroplane is really unmatched (except compared to space travel which unfortunately is not for everyone). But there are a few dark aspects of aviation. Learn about one such aspect in this article.

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    Introduction

    How is aircraft hijacking affecting the society globally? I am sure you all are familiar with the term “Hijacking" even if you did not have a direct experience of it (by the way if any of the readers of this article had the experience of being rescued safely from an aeroplane hijacking I would request him/her to give their valuable suggestions based on their first hand experience). Technically, hijacking can be defined as taking forcible control of any public transport vehicle be it an aeroplane, train, bus or ship, and using the people traveling as hostages to meet their demands, which are mostly unreasonable and illegal.

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    History of Hijacking

    In this article we are mainly talking about hijacking in context of aeroplanes and not other modes of transport. Obviously it can be understood that since aeroplanes were not around till about a century ago, the history of hijacking should not be very old. Read and learn about the first flight by the Wright brothers.

    Infact the first documented hijacking of an aeroplane took place in the year 1930 when a PAN American mail plane was hijacked by revolutionaries in Peru. After that day there have been several other such incidents. Several of these have passed off as harmless incidents without any loss of life while others were quite bloody and led to the loss of several lives and property damage. One of the most famous of these is the D.B Cooper hijacking, which ended with the hijacker himself jumping out of the rear compartment of the plane after securing money for hostages.

    Most noptably,who can forget what happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States and there has hardly been a parallel of such an act of terrorism. The scale of the event was so massive and its impact was so deep that it is beyond description. We will discuss more about several mysterious aspects of this incident in a separate article.

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    The Security Aspect

    Prevention is better than cure and this idiom applies not only to the health arena, but to all aspects of life including the hijacking aspect of aviation. The best thing is to not allow possible hijackers to board any aeroplane. Keeping this in mind, the security measures have been beefed up in most countries across the globe especially after the 9/11 incident. Matching of baggage against the passengers, thorough checking of all hand baggage units, not allowing any sharp metallic object inside and using hi-tech instruments to verify visas and electronic surveillance are some of the stringent measures that have been adopted in this regard.

    Apart from these measures, the security agencies also organize mock security drills wherein an actual hijack is simulated and the security personnel are supposed to deal with the situation with minimum possible loss of life and property. Figure 1 shows one such drill in progress at an airport. Of course things have certain becoming more difficult with the emergence of the trends of suicide bombings which makes deterrence by fear very ineffective agents against the hijackers.

    In the end it must also be remembered that apart from the duties of the security personnel, we as normal citizen also need to be alert and vigilant about an untoward observations or happenings so that any possible breach of security could be brought to light immediately thus preventing any catastrophic event such as that occurred in September 2001.

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    Global Impact

    When analysing how is aircraft hijacking affecting the society globally, one must take a long look at the changing dynamics of the security world. With the addition of full-body image scanners and racial profiling in countries like Israel, hijackings and security threats have personally impacted airline travel. In addition, with airplanes now being used as weapons from the air, the militarization of the airline industry is at a new height. The days of the D.B. Cooper hijacking may be at an end.

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    Figure 1: Security Drill in Progress

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    References

    Security Drill in Progress: http://img.timeinc.net/time/daily/2008/0803/china_hijacking_0310.jpg