|Date||19 July 1960|
|Aircraft type||Lockheed Electra|
|Operator||Trans Australia Airlines|
43 passengers and six crew were on board Flight 408, the last Sydney to Brisbane flight for the day. The crew consisted of hostesses Fay Strugnell and Janeene Christie, captain John Benton, first officer T. R. (Tom) Bennett and flight engineer Fred McDonald. Another TAA pilot, captain D. R. (Dennis) Lawrence, was traveling in the cockpit as a passenger.
The hijacker, Alex Hildebrandt, wielded a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle, as well as a bomb: two sticks of gelignite, connected to a detonator that would apparently have fired, had Hildebrandt touched a bare wire to a torch battery. After demanding that the plane be redirected to Singapore, Hildebrandt fired a shot, which went through the aircraft ceiling. Captain Bennett, who had been narrowly missed by the bullet, punched Hildebrandt and pulled the wires from his hand, disabling the bomb. Captain Lawrence assisted Bennett in subduing and disarming the hijacker. Bennett was awarded the George Medal for his actions and Lawrence was formally commended.
Hildebrandt, who had been born in the Soviet Union in 1938, faced serious charges of attempted murder, having an explosive detonating device with the intention of destroying the aircraft and having explosives capable of causing injuries to persons on board. Hildebrandt was sentenced to three years in jail for attempted murder, 10 years for attempting to destroy the aircraft and two years for the explosives charge. He successfully appealed the sentence in the Queensland Criminal Court as he argued that the aircraft which was 35 minutes into the flight, was over New South Wales (NSW) when he armed the explosives in the aircraft toilet. He served a three-year sentence in Brisbane, for attempted murder and on discharge was arrested by detectives from NSW. He faced court again and was convicted on the charge of attempted destruction of an aircraft and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in NSW.
See also Edit
- "'Crew fooled me and saved plane' - alleged statement". The Age. 31 August 1960. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- "Airliner saved by crew's courage - Praise by detective at court hearing". The Age. 21 July 1960. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- The Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 23 July 1995, Pages 57&87
- Contested Skies, John Gunn, ISBN 0-7022-3073-1, Page 171&172
- "BENNETT, Thomas Ross". It's an Honour. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "Seven Years over Bomb". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 May 1963. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- "Let's watch out for plane hijackers, too". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 September 1969. Retrieved 21 January 2015.