Malaysian Airline System Flight 653
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2008)|
|Date||4 December 1977|
|Summary||Hijacking, unsolved crash|
|Site||Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-2H6|
|Operator||Malaysian Airline System|
|Flight origin||Penang International Airport|
|Last stopover||Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport|
|Destination||Singapore Int'l Airport (Paya Lebar)|
Malaysian Airline System Flight 653 (MH653) was a scheduled domestic flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, operated by Malaysian Airline System (MAS). On the evening of 4 December 1977, the Boeing 737-200 aircraft flying the service crashed at Tanjung Kupang, Johor, in Malaysia, while purportedly being diverted by hijackers to Singapore. It was the first fatal air crash for Malaysia Airlines (as MAS is now known); with all 93 passengers and 7 crew killed instantly. The flight was apparently hijacked as soon as it reached cruise altitude. The circumstances in which the hijacking and subsequent crash occurred remain unsolved.
Sequence of events
Flight 653 departed Penang's Runway 22 at exactly 19:21 hours for Kuala Lumpur's Subang Airport (now known as Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport). Passengers included the Malaysian Agricultural Minister, Dato' Ali Haji Ahmad; Public Works Department Head, Dato' Mahfuz Khalid; and Cuban Ambassador to Japan, Mario García Incháustegui. The aircraft crashed at Tanjong Kupang.
At approximately 19:54 hours, while at an altitude of 4,000 feet over Batu Arang and descending toward Subang's Runway 33, the crew reported to Subang Tower that an "unidentified hijacker" was on board. The tower immediately notified the authorities, who made emergency preparations at the airport.
A few minutes later, the crew radioed: "We're now proceeding to Singapore. Good night." but Flight 653 never arrived there. Investigators heard a series of gunshots in the last few minutes of the cockpit voice recorder. They concluded that both pilot and co-pilot were fatally shot by the hijacker which left the plane "professionally uncontrolled".
At 20:15 hours, all communication with the aircraft was lost. At 20:36 hours, the residents of Kampong Ladang, Tanjung Kupang in Johor reported hearing explosions and seeing burning wreckage in a swamp. The wreckage was later identified as the aircraft; it had hit the ground at a near-vertical angle at a very high speed. There were no survivors and no recognizable body was found.
The aircraft features the upcoming Philippine docudrama series Air Crash Investigation, entitled "Tanjung Kupang hijacking and crash" about the Flight 653.
- The aircraft was a Boeing 737-200 model; Boeing assigns a unique customer code for each company that buys one of its aircraft, which is applied as a suffix to the model number at the time the aircraft is built. The code for Malaysian Airline System (and its successor Malaysia Airlines) is H6, hence "737-2H6"
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- Pamela Boykoff and Saima Mohsin (28 March 2014). "Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 surfaces pain of 1977 tragedy". CNN. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
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