Things Don’t Always Go According To Plan
“The backstory of the hijacker is a tragedy. Auburn Calloway was a Stanford graduate who loved his family but couldn’t afford to send his kids to college. He used his experience as a navy pilot, and the location of Memphis to grab a job at FedEx. He was frustrated at the fact his life amounted to only flying airplanes when he could have so much more potential. Calloway then devised a plan to die in a plane crash, so that he could send his insurance money to his ex-wife so that his kids can go to college. He was going to be the flight engineer for the same flight, but the day before he falsified flight hours by a single minute, so he was on the verge of unemployment.
He packed a harpoon and hammers to disguise the hijacking as an accident. His plan was to turn off the flight recorder, and then incapacitate the crew with blunt force trauma since investigators would assume they died from the force of hitting the ground. He would use the harpoon as a last resort. He would put the weapons in a guitar case, as to not arouse suspicion. This took place before 9/11, so he just walked through without looking suspicious.
He boards the flight, gets acquainted with the crew to lower their guard and waits. 19 minutes into the flight, he walks into the cockpit and hits everyone with hammers.
First Officer Jim Tucker, was rendered unconscious. The other two crew, Captain David Sanders and flight engineer Andrew Peterson get off of their seats to stop Calloway, but he threatens them with the speargun he got from the back.
Here’s the crazy part.
Calloway messed with the wrong crew.
Peterson grabs the harpoon and starts to wrangle it away. Sanders joins him in trying to stop Calloway.
Tucker, still dizzy and disoriented, realizes the situation and goes back to what he learned. Ex-Navy, Vietnam vet, he knows a thing or two about planes.
He treats the jet like it’s a fighter aircraft. Turning it 140 degrees (basically) upside down, it pushed the bounds of what a DC-10 could do.
There’s a fight in the cargo hold between two injured crew members and a man who had nothing to lose, and a half-conscious pilot who is treating the jet like a fighter, flipping the plane upside down so that his crew could overtake the hijacker.
They take a u-turn back to Memphis, emergency landing, about a mile above the ground. The problem is, is that the plane is too heavy, too fast, and too high. There’s a real chance adrenaline will impair their movements and overshoot the runway.
They land, SWAT arrest Calloway, and everyone is sent to the hospital. The damage that Calloway has done to the crew, unfortunately, makes the crew not able to fly commercially again.
The plane is still in service, but it was upgraded without the flight engineer position.
I learned about this in this plane investigation series on YouTube, and it astounds me how this literally has never been turned into a movie.”