American Airlines Flight 293

American Airlines Flight 293 was a regularly scheduled flight from New York City (LaGuardia Airport) to Chicago (O'Hare International Airport). On June 20, 1979, the aircraft serving the flight was hijacked by Nikola Kavaja, a Serbian nationalist and anti-communist. During the hijacking Kavaja demanded and received another airplane which he intended to crash into the headquarters of the Yugoslav Communist Party in Belgrade. He was persuaded to surrender during a stop in Ireland.

American Airlines Flight 293
A Boeing 727, similar to the one involved
DateJune 20, 1979
SiteUnited States
Aircraft typeBoeing 727
Boeing 707
OperatorAmerican Airlines
Flight originLaGuardia Airport, New York City
1st stopoverO'Hare International Airport, Chicago
2nd stopoverJohn F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City
Last stopoverShannon Airport, Ireland
DestinationO'Hare International Airport, Chicago
Passengers135 (1 hijacker)

Background edit

A Boeing 707, similar to the one involved

Nikola Kavaja was one of six Serbs convicted of the May 1979 bombing of a Yugoslav consul’s home in Chicago.[1] On June 20, 1979, Kavaja, already released on bail, took over the Boeing 727 shortly before it landed in Chicago from New York by threatening the pilots with a homemade bomb.[1] He demanded the release of Stojilko Kajevich, a Serbian Orthodox priest and accomplice in the consul home bombing who remained in jail.[1] After letting the passengers and most of the crew members go, Kavaja forced what was left of the crew to fly back to New York City, where he demanded and received a Boeing 707 to fly him initially to Johannesburg, South Africa, but later to Ireland after learning from his lawyer that Ireland did not have an extradition treaty with the United States. After arriving at Shannon Airport he planned to take control of the airplane and fly it to Belgrade where he would crash it into the headquarters of the Yugoslav Communist Party; however, after being persuaded by his lawyer, who was also on board, to not do so, he surrendered to the Irish authorities, who then turned him over to the Americans. Kavaja was sentenced to 67 years in an American prison, but served only 20 years.[1][2] Kavaja died from a heart attack at his home in Belgrade in November 2008.[3]

Kavaja later claimed in numerous interviews with Serbian newspapers that Osama bin Laden stole his idea of crashing airplanes into tall buildings in the September 11, 2001, attacks.[4]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Weber, Bruce (November 12, 2008). "Nikola Kavaja, Anti-Tito Hijacker of Jet, Dies at 75". New York Times.
  2. ^ Hockenos, Paul (2003). Homeland Calling: Exile Patriotism and the Balkan Wars. Cornell University Press. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-0-8014-4158-5.
  3. ^ Dusan Stojanovic, [ "Serb who hijacked US plane in 1979 dies"], Associated Press, August 10, 2008.
  4. ^ "Serb who hijacked U.S. plane in 1979 dies". MSNBC. November 11, 2008.