Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 SQUAWK 7500 1216 Central Standard Time

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Gary tried to make an immediate turn for Great Falls but was blocked by an intense rain cell. He made a sharp turn away from it and pulled up on the nose of the aircraft in an attempt to climb above the more destructive area of the storm. The past fifteen minutes had been mentally and physically exhausting for him.

Constant turns - left, then right - and multiple climbs and descents had taxed his stamina. But, so far, he had been able to maintain a fairly smooth ride and, according to the display on the weather scope, once he cleared this rain cell the worst part of the weather would be behind them and he could set a course for Great Falls.

Seeing that Gary was doing a brilliant job of flying through the holes in the line of thunderstorms, Mike decided to call the cabin. Again, no one answered. He then rang the special code which requires a flight attendant to drop whatever he or she is doing and immediately answer the phone. There was no response.
Mike's thoughts briefly turned to the passengers he had spoken with at the gate in Chicago; the senior couple on their way to visit their first grandchild, the young woman smiling over a very large and pregnant belly who asked him to explain "cabin pressure", and the mother sending her unaccompanied minor son to Seattle to spend his seventh birthday with his father.

He wondered how they were coping with the horrifying situation in the cabin. The fear and anxiety in Karen's voice and in Michelle's screams resounded again and again in his mind. The mental image of one of his crew, helpless and with a knife to her throat while a madman threatened to kill everyone on the plane, was a scene from his worst nightmare. Mike's wife had been a flight attendant before they decided she should stay home with their daughters - little girls the same age as some of the children that he had seen board this plane. The thought of his wife fighting a knife-wielding lunatic was unbearable. Mike shook the image out of his head and turned to his first officer.

"Gary, as soon as we get through this weather, we're going to run the engines all the way to the red-line. We'll back off a little on the power when it looks like they're about to throw a fan blade. I want this jet going so fast that it peels the paint off."

"You got it, boss. By the way, it looks like this little storm cell passing behind the right wing is the last of the heavy weather."

Mike glanced at the radar screen. Sure enough, the weather returns indicated on the radar panel were changing from red, to yellow, to finally a dark green. The aircraft lurched forward as Mike pushed the throttles to their full forward position. It didn't take long for the engines to stabilize at their maximum power output which resulted in a constant, but light, vibration as the aircraft reached its "redline" airspeed.

At thirty-six thousand feet, Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two was hurtling through the troposphere at five hundred fifty miles per hour. The navigation computer indicated three minutes until the descent point was reached and estimated seventeen minutes until the aircraft touched down at Great Falls International Airport. Mike and his first officer clipped the approach charts to their control yokes and oriented themselves to the layout and surrounding terrain of the airport.

Having punched out of the line of thunderstorms, the aircraft was flying in nothing more than light drizzle. The ride was mostly smooth but Mike turned on the seatbelt sign anyway and made an announcement to the cabin that they were landing very shortly. Hoping that the clouds had sufficiently masked their true location, he didn't mention where they were landing. His plan was to get the plane on the ground, as quickly as possible, and let the authorities take it from there.

As the descent point was reached, Gary smoothly lowered the nose and started down. Mike rang the cabin for the third time. For the third time, there was no answer. He switched his transmitter selector back to the main radio panel and broadcast, "Denver Center, Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, request." Again, the response was instantaneous.
"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, yes, sir, go ahead with your request."

"Confirm that you have notified Great Falls law enforcement and all appropriate agencies of our emergency status."

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, affirmative, Great Falls law enforcement is standing-by at the airport. Also, be advised that we've been in contact with your dispatch office and they're aware of your location and intentions, over."

Mike had been too busy to send an ACARS message to the dispatch office. He told the controller that he appreciated his assistance.

The controller said, "No problem, sir. And while I have you, would you please give me your specific aircraft type, fuel on board, and SOBs."

"Roger, Denver, we are a Boeing 737, we have two hours plus fifty minutes of fuel on board and we have one hundred forty two souls on board; one hundred thirty-seven passengers plus five crew. And I have another request."
Denver Center responded, "Thank you, sir. I copied all of that. Go ahead with your request."

Mike took a deep breath and held it for a couple of seconds. Not being able to contact the flight attendants had led to ominous thoughts. Thoughts that weren't pretty. Nonetheless, he had to be prepared.

"Yes, sir," Mike replied, "I need you to confirm that we will have medical personnel available to meet the aircraft."

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, can you give me some idea as to how much medical attention you will require upon arrival?"
Mike exhaled and said, "Denver, I have one hundred thirty-seven passengers on board and I haven't been able to contact any of my flight attendants for the past twenty-two minutes. The last I heard from the cabin, one of the girls was being held, at knifepoint, by a male passenger who stated he was going to kill everybody on the plane. I'm not aware of any injuries at this time; however, the situation could be extreme. Please have as much medical assistance standing-by as you possibly can."

There was a short pause as the controller mentally processed the scene Mike had painted for him. The controllers' solemn response was barely audible in the pilots' headsets.

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, roger, sir. We'll get all the medical personnel that we can."

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Captain Steve A. Reeves is author of fiction book SQUAWK 7500 Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 rue and it is true story. Book will be soon available on Amazon. Stay tuned.

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