Aer Lingus Flight 164

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Aer Lingus flight 164
Aer Lingus Boeing 737-200 Marmet.jpg
An Aer Lingus 737-200, similar to the one that was hijacked
Hijacking
Date 2 May 1981 (1981-05-02)
Summary Hijacking
Site London Heathrow Airport
Aircraft
Aircraft type Boeing 737–200
Operator Aer Lingus
Flight origin Dublin Airport
Destination London Heathrow Airport
Passengers 103
Crew 10
Fatalities 0
Survivors 113 (all)

Aer Lingus Flight 164 was a scheduled Boeing 737 passenger flight that was hijacked on 2 May 1981, en route from Dublin Airport in Ireland to London Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis[edit]

While on approach to Heathrow, about five minutes before the flight was due to land, a 55-year-old Australian named Laurence James Downey went into the toilet and doused himself in petrol.[1] He then went to the cockpit and demanded that the plane continue on to Le Touquet – Côte d'Opale Airport in France, and refuel there for a flight to Tehran, Iran.[2][3] Upon landing at Le Touquet, Downey further demanded the publication in the Irish press of a nine-page statement which he had the Captain throw from the cockpit window.[4]

Standoff[edit]

After an eight-hour standoff (during which time Downey released 11 of his 112 hostages),[5] French special forces stormed the plane and apprehended Downey. No shots were fired and nobody was injured.[6] It emerged that Downey was being sought by police in Perth, Australia, in connection with a $70,000 land fraud incident,[7] and was also wanted in Shannon, Ireland, for alleged assault.[6] In February 1983, he was sentenced, in Saint-Omer, France, to five years' imprisonment for air piracy.[8]

Hijacker[edit]

In his statement, Downey claimed to have been a Trappist monk in residence at Tre Fontane Abbey in the 1950s (this was later confirmed by monastery officials),[2] before he was expelled from the order for punching a superior in the face.[3] He then took a job as a tour guide in central Portugal, at a shrine devoted to Our Lady of Fátima, who is said to have appeared before three children and shared with them three secrets.[2] At the time of the hijacking, the third secret was known only to the Pope and other senior figures in the Catholic Church; Downey's statement called on the Vatican to release this secret to the public.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Scannal – Aer Lingus Hijack". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Hijacker Has Tangled Past". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 4 May 1981. p. 4B. 
  3. ^ a b c "Police storm Irish jetliner; hostages freed unharmed". Kingman Daily Miner. 3 May 1981. pp. 1, 5. 
  4. ^ "Former monk hijacks Irish airliner". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 2 May 1981. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Former monk surrenders plane". The Southeast Missourian. 3 May 1981. p. 1. 
  6. ^ a b "French Police Storm Plane, Capture Hijacker". The Toledo Blade. 3 May 1981. p. 2. 
  7. ^ "Obsessions of ex-monk hijacker". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 May 1981. p. 13. 
  8. ^ "Hijacker sentenced". The Telegraph. 14 February 1983. p. 5. 

Coordinates: 50°30′53″N 001°37′39″E / 50.51472°N 1.62750°E / 50.51472; 1.62750