"There's a bomb onboard and it's going to explode"
A fearful flight with a wannabe terrorist on a London to Athens flight, 1992
(Story by editor, October 2005).
I recently unearthed this old letter sent to me by the Dept of Transport in response to my request for compensation after my Athens flight had been suddenly diverted to Frankfurt in 1992.
Here's the story:
A friend and I were heading off for a relaxing couple of weeks in the Greek Islands and after enjoying a quick pre-flight drink, boarded our Athens-bound plane at Heathrow, London.
Annoyingly, the plane was held on the tarmac for ages while we were kept waiting for one passenger who had apparently checked in but not boarded.
Eventually, with just minutes to go, a slightly disheveled looking bloke came on board and took his seat a few rows in front of us, ignoring the angry gazes from his fellow passengers.
He was a white, possibly Irish-sounding guy who looked about 35, maybe a bit older.
As soon as we took off, he kept calling over the stewardesses before finally bounding up to the captain's cockpit, quickly followed by a stewardess.
Next thing we knew, the pilot suddenly announced that the plane would be diverted to Frankfurt for 'operational reasons', and the plane then virtually dive bombed towards the airport.
It was terrifying, as there was clearly something very wrong going on.
There was no panic on board but as the plane continued its very steep descent you could see the fear in people's eyes. Nobody talked. Some people made notes, maybe to their loved ones 'just in case.'
Eventually, after an ear-popping plummet, we started our final approach, with the tension on the plane nearly unbearable.
Armed trucks... and tanks!
As we landed, I looked out of the window and saw loads of fire trucks and armed police trucks driving alongside the plane, which was then parked up some distance away from the airport buildings - and surrounded by tanks!
We were then escorted into a large holding area where - after a considerable wait - we were methodically searched by aggressive armed guards. This wasn't my idea of a holiday!
Our bags were completely emptied out on tables under the stern gaze of stroppy officers, and I even had to waste a frame of my tiny Olympus XA camera to prove it was really a camera and not some cunning bomb-type thing.
Copulating men with trousers on.
Eventually, we were put up in a nearby hotel for the night where I settled down to a watch a bit of relaxing TV.
With all of the TV channels being in German, I listlessly flicked through the channels, but came across a very bizarre program that I found rather compelling. It was a sort of soft porn program that had naked women being shagged by grunting men with their trousers still on and zipped up. Most odd.
Not surprisingly, such low-thrill viewing soon sent me off to sleep, and we were woken up early the next day and allowed to continue our journey on to Greece.
We never heard what happened to the would-be bomber. Anyone know?
Check out the full story in the letter below:
« Back to mag homepage