The true stroy of the longest-distance hijacking in American history.
In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of '60s idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Some hijackers wished to escape to foreign lands; others aimed to swap hostages for sacks of cash. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when shattered Army veteran Roger Holder and mischievous party girl Cathy Kerkow managred to comandeer Western Airlines Flight 701 and flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom—a heist that remains the longest-distance hijacking in American history.
More than just an enthralling story about a spectacular crime and its bittersweet, decades-long aftermath, The Skies Belong to Us is also a psychological portrait of America at its most turbulent and a testament to the madness that can grip a nation when politics fail.
Although Koerner (Now the Hell Will Start), a contributing editor at Wired, had access to only one of the two hijackers whose 1972 commandeering of a U.S. airliner he recounts here in thrilling detail, he makes the mistake of sharing the other s thoughts, a dramatization that blurs the line between nonfiction and fiction. The book opens with a gripping scene: a stewardess aboard Western Airlines Flight 701, en route from Los Angeles to Seattle, is approached by a passenger she had spilled something on earlier. But rather than complain about his stained clothing, Roger Holder, a Vietnam veteran protesting the war, hands her a note claiming that four men with bombs and guns are aboard. The narrative then shifts back in time to provide a fascinating look at the history of skyjacking from 1968-1973, a plane was hijacked almost every week and efforts to thwart it, replete with offbeat details like the suggestion that all passengers be forced to don boxing gloves upon entering aircraft to preclude them from being able to hold or fire guns. The odyssey of Holder s life before and after his act of terror, aided by his lover, Cathy Kerkow, makes for compelling reading, though carelessness about speculation is a minus. 8 b&w photos.