I was hired to write a political thriller about the tragedy of Egyptair 648. Flight to Oblivion: Anatomy of a Hijacking is a pulse-pounding 26 hours during a plane hijack considered “one of the world’s bloodiest and scariest plane hijackings.” The rescuers were responsible for all but a handful of the 60 deaths, including a Canadian mother and child.
This is a powerful and relevant story that transcends politics. The surviving hijacker never revealed which organization they represented nor where they were taking the plane. The flight was an evening economy flight, with passengers of many nationalities, including teachers from the US, a mother and baby from Canada, and even a troupe of young Philippine dancers on their way home. Also on board for their protection were armed security police in plain clothes.
A mid-air gun battle left one of the police badly wounded and the leader of the hijackers dead. The two remaining hijackers ordered the plane to land in Malta but Malta airport refused permission. They landed anyway and when the hijackers demanded fuel, the Prime Minister himself spoke on the radio to refuse their request. They started shooting passengers. One at a time on the front steps. They stopped after 6. The irony is, their gunbarrels were bent. 4 who were shot at point blank range, survived. The remaining passengers were to be rescued by commandos whose orders were to target anyone running from the plane. It was reasoned that only the terrorists would try to escape. The commandos set off explosives in the luggage hold which set fire to the cabin. 56 passengers ended up dead, in the cabin or on the tarmac.
The True Story