Airplane Hijacks

Title: Hijack Attempt Foiled Aboard Turkish Air flight
January 6, 2011

Abstract:  A man claiming to have a bomb tried to enter the cockpit of a Turkish Airlines plane about to land in Istanbul, Turkey, but was tackled by passengers and taken into custody, Turkish media reported Wednesday.

The man, identified as 40-year-old Cuma Yasar, was wearing a snowmask as he approached the cockpit during the descent of the Boeing 737-800 from Oslo, Norway, into Ataturk International Airport, the state news agency Anadolu said.

He threatened to blow up a bomb he said he was holding, and urged the captain to fly back to Oslo, the news agency reported.

But passengers Firat Faysal Ali and Dag Gjerstad tackled the man, the agency reported. Airport police took him into custody after the plane landed but found no explosives on him, it said.

But they did find an identification card for the handicapped on Yasar, who suffers a mental illness, it added.

Airport operations were not disrupted, an operations supervisor at the airport told CNN (CNN, 2011).

Passengers And Crew Foil Hijack Attempt In China
Date: June 30, 2012

Abstract: Passengers and crew members thwarted an attempt to hijack a plane in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, local authorities said Friday.

Ten minutes into the flight between the cities of Hotan and Urumqi, six people on board the plane tried to take control of it "through violence," a short statement by the provincial police said.

The passengers and crew members managed to subdue the alleged hijackers, sustaining minor injuries in the struggle, police said. The plane then returned to Hotan.

Once the plane was back on the ground, police took the suspects, all ethnic Uyghurs, into custody. Police later released their names on state media.

The government said it plans to honor crew members and passengers who offered help. Two air marshals and two flight attendants were injured, the Civil Aviation Authority in Beijing said.

"During the incident, crew members were brave and resolute," the authority said. "The cockpit crew remained calm and landed the aircraft safety at the origin airport. Many passengers were courageous and acted promptly to offer help, highlighting their sense of justice and responsibility as citizens. They played a key role in an emergency situation by safeguarding state security, saving lives and protecting property."

Authorities said the case is still under investigation but operations at the Hotan airport have returned to normal.

Uyghurs are Turkic Muslims, a group linguistically, culturally and religiously distinct from China's majority Han population.

Chinese authorities have often blamed militants of Uyghur descent for outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang in recent years, labeling them terrorists.

Xinjiang was rocked by the worst violence in decades in July 2009 when rioting between Uyghurs and Han Chinese left nearly 200 people dead and 1,700 wounded in the regional capital, Urumqi.

Last year, the authorities carried out a two-month security operation, which ended in October, against violence, terrorism and radical Islam across Xinjiang, a resource-rich region that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and several Central Asian states (CNN, 2012).

Title: Colorado Murder Suspect Steals Plane, Commits Suicide In St. George
Date: July 17, 2012
KSL News

Abstract: A commercial pilot suspected of killing his girlfriend in Colorado Springs tried to steal a commercial airplane Tuesday at the St. George Municipal Airport, then committed suicide, investigators said.

The man who shot and killed himself inside a commandeered SkyWest airplane early Tuesday was 40-year- old Brian Joseph Hedglin, St. George spokesman Marc Mortensen confirmed.

But why Hedglin ended up in St. George or what he intended to do with the aircraft was unknown Tuesday.

"We have no idea," Mortensen said. "We don't know what his intent was. We don't know if he was going to take off or run it into the ground. There was no note."

"We many never know that," added St. George Police Capt. James Van Fleet. "The person who has those answers is dead."

Some officials close to the case have speculated Hedglin was likely familiar with the airport and had flown in and out of St. George while working for SkyWest. The airline's headquarters are in St. George.

In Colorado Springs, police have been looking for Hedglin since Friday in connection with the death of his girlfriend, 39-year-old Christina Cornejo. Hedglin had previously been arrested in a harassment case involving Cornejo, but was free on bail, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. The two had been dating for four years when she told him in March she wanted a break.

Friday, police were called to Hedglin's residence by a relative of Cornejo to perform a welfare check and they found her dead inside. The cause of death was determined to be multiple stab wounds, according to Colorado Springs police.

Why she was at Hedglin's house or whether she had gone there willingly was still being investigated, said Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Barbara Miller.

Authorities launched an intensive search and contacted his employer, SkyWest Airlines, and asked them to deactivate his employee access card, which SkyWest did, Miller said.

Police conducted a four-hour door-to-door search of two subdivisions, the Gazette reported.

About 12:50 a.m. Tuesday, a St. George police officer doing a routine check at the St. George Municipal Airport spotted a motorcycle parked next to the barbed wire gate that borders the airport property, Mortensen said. The engine was still warm.

He then noticed a rug thrown over the wire part of the fence as if someone had climbed over. Mortensen said investigators later learned Hedglin wore leather gloves while scaling the fence.

While the officer was investigating the motorcycle, Hedglin somehow gained access into a SkyWest CRJ200 aircraft and started its engines.

"In an effort to locate the owner of the motorcycle, the officer returned to the terminal area where he observed a SkyWest jet in the terminal parking lot with several damaged vehicles around the plane," Mortensen said.

Hedglin first backed the plane up, then moved forward, clipping the terminal. Somehow, the plane ended up in the parking lot and crashed into parked vehicles, he said.

The terminal suffered several hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, Mortensen said. However, he expected the terminal would be open for business as usual once the investigation was completed and the wreckage and spilled fuel was cleaned up.

No one on the ground was injured. The crash apparently prevented Hedglin from taking off.

Hedglin then shot himself once, killing himself inside the plane, Mortensen said. He would not comment on whether Hedglin had any other weapons in his possession in addition to the gun. The plane's engines were still running when St. George police and a representative from SkyWest entered. The SkyWest employee helped police gain access into the plane and shut down the aircraft.

Hedglin's body was found about halfway down the aisle in the plane, Van Fleet said.

"The aircraft did sustain damage. The extent of the damage is currently being inspected by our maintenance and safety professionals," SkyWest said in a prepared statement.

The company retrieved the plane's voice and data recording and investigators were going through it to look for any information about what happened, Van Fleet said.

As for how Hedglin gained access into the plane and started it, Van Fleet said officials were uncertain Tuesday, but noted that his background likely was a factor.

"It's a SkyWest plane. He's a current SkyWest pilot. He's going to know exactly how to get into the plane, activate all the systems … and take that plane off. The average person, I do not think, would be able to do that," he said. "He would have had to have a certain knowledge about how to get that plane going."

The plane was not in service at the time and there were no passengers on board. It was not immediately known how Hedglin gained access into the aircraft. Hedglin held a commercial airline pilot license and worked for SkyWest. The airline released a statement saying he was "on administrative leave" at the time of the incident.

The airport was closed Tuesday while authorities investigated. "Until the airport is reopened, passengers with Delta Connection flights to and from St. George are being re-accommodated on other flights as well as with ground transportation from nearby Cedar City," SkyWest said in a prepared statement.

The FBI, St. George police and the Transportation Security Administration were conducting a "joint investigation."

Mortensen said all commercial flights were canceled until further notice. The private portion of the airport was still open, however. The St. George airport handles seven flights a day.

Both Cornejo and Hedglin were with the Colorado Army National Guard. Hedglin has been part time with the Guard since 2008, said Colorado National Guard spokesman Capt. Darin Overstreet. He was a "food service specialist," or a cook, he said.

Hedglin participated in traditional National Guard drills, but was never deployed, Overstreet said. Cornejo was a full-time National Guard member, joining in 2006 and becoming an officer in 2011. She was part of the 100 Missile Defense Brigade, Overstreet said.

As to why Hedglin fled from Colorado Springs to St. George, some officials close to the case have speculated he was likely familiar with the airport and had flown in and out of St. George while working for SkyWest. The airline's headquarters are in St. George.

However, there was no official explanation Tuesday why Hedglin had fled to St. George or what he planned to do with the plane once he took off.

Hedglin reportedly also has relatives who live in southern Utah (KSL News, 2012).

Title: Indian Court Sentences Man To Life Imprisonment For 2009 Hijack Scare In Passenger Plane
October 31, 2012
Fox News

An Indian court has sentenced a man to life in prison for a 2009 hijack scare in a passenger plane, saying it was adopting a "zero tolerance" approach to prevent future incidents that could endanger the lives of other passengers.

A New Delhi court on Tuesday ordered Jitender Kumar Mohla, 45, imprisoned for life for threatening the pilot and crew of an IndiGo Airlines plane in February 2009 by saying he was armed with a gun and infected needles.

Mohla plans to appeal the sentence, a relative said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not wish to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case.

Mohla was convicted last week on charges of endangering the safety of others and intimidating the pilot and crew while the aircraft, which was headed from western Goa state to Delhi, was mid-air with around 160 passengers on board.

The threat created panic among the passengers and prompted the pilot to send a hijack alert.

The plane made an emergency landing at New Delhi's airport, where it was kept in isolation for two hours until security personnel confirmed that Mohla was unarmed. It remains unclear why he made the threats.

Mohla was arrested a day after the incident and has been in jail since then. He has made several bail attempts, but his applications have been turned down by the courts.

District Judge I.S. Mehta also ordered Mohla to pay a fine of 7,000 rupees ($130).

After the sentencing, the court said in a statement that it was adopting a "zero tolerance" approach toward offenses that could endanger the lives of other passengers and was in keeping with India's commitment to international agreements on safety in civil aviation, according to the Hindu newspaper (Fox News, 2012).