Date: March 31, 1971
Flight Info: Eastern Air Lines Flight 939 from New York to San Juan, P.R.
The Story: A 64-year-old Venezuelan native who also used the surname “Landeatta,” Ramirez began his hijacking by walking up and down the jet’s aisle with a noisemaker. After several minutes of this odd behavior, he handed the stewardess several notes written in red ink and asked that they be delivered to the captain. The notes indicated that Ramirez was upset about the conviction of Lieut. William Calley for his role in the My Lai Massacre, and that he would destroy the plane with a bomb if he wasn’t taken directly to Havana. “I’m not kidding,” the toothless, white-haired Ramirez told a stewardess. “I’m a funny-looking man, but I’m not alone.” En route to Cuba, Ramirez took to the plane’s intercom to inform the passengers that “he had suffered all his life and had never been important but this was his one day.” Upon landing in Havana, when a Cuban soldier beckoned Ramirez off the flight, the hijacker seemed confused and insisted that he would like to continue on to the United States.
The Upshot: Ramirez was imprisoned in Cuba until 1974, when he was allowed to depart to Bermuda. He was taken into custody there and returned to the U.S., where he was convicted of air piracy and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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