Not in it for the mojitos
The Skies Belong to Us, Brendar Koerner’s rollicking adventure tale of skyjacking in a different era, is a lot of fun.
How different was air travel in the U.S. in 1972 compared to now?
- You could walk from the curb all the way to the door of the aircraft without any security or even having to show a ticket or boarding pass. On some airlines, you could purchase your ticket after you were seated.
- One hijacker bicycled through a hole in the airport fence and on to the tarmac.
- A group of hijackers brought three grenades they’d bought from a military surplus store in Birmingham, Alabama.
- One hijacker brought a submachine gun on board, marching band mobster style, in a trombone case.
- One group of hijackers brought their three children with them.
Two recurring themes in the book:
- Airlines, fearing inconveniencing their passengers, really didn’t want to spend any money or take any steps to prevent hijackings. Almost until end of the hijacking wave in 1973, hijackers just wanted to be flown out of the country, usually to Cuba. Nobody got hurt and the event was, at most, an inconvenience for the airline and passengers.
- The hijackers were quite often clueless and desperate, commandeering planes almost on impulse. Law enforcement, at least at first. was simply unprepared.
This book is a gateway to a gentler time.