Cyprus - the Hijack, by Bruce Fry (1970)

I was sent to Nicosia as relief station maintenance manager on 4th September 1970. The requirement was to handle a few VC10 services per week between the UK and Africa, all in all a doddle of a posting, allowing a fair amount of time for sightseeing and leisure on the island.

On the evening of the day of the hijacking, four days after my arrival, the district manager and I, together with our wives, were due to attend the wine festival at Limassol, which had been organised by our handling agents.

Late that afternoon I had a call from our agents’ airport office to say that a BOAC aircraft had been hijacked and that they were expecting two or three Boeing 707s imminently. As the agents knew we were going to attend the festival I assumed it was a ‘wind-up’ and put the phone down. It rang again almost immediately, assuring us that it was not a joke and our presence was needed. The DM and I headed straight for the airport, where we were surprised to see a couple of 707s already on the ground.

We then learned that a BOAC VC-10 had been hijacked and that both Beirut and Cairo airports had closed, causing the diversions to Nicosia. From a quiet backwater on the BOAC network, Nicosia suddenly became the hub for the area.

Reinforcements were called for, and four newly trained duty officers were sent out, together with a senior engineer. At the same time, two security officers arrived to set up passenger security screening. Both the DM’s and my wife were put on standby to do body searches on women, but in the event were not required.

It would probably be true to say that the history of airport security and screening, as we know it today, had its origins in those days at Dawson’s Field, Nicosia.

We were all kept on our toes handling these extra flights, especially the duty officers who had to prepare the flight plans manually for a variety of destinations.

When normality finally returned to Nicosia and airports in the area reopened, the district manager held a party at one of the local restaurants and all those who had taken part in this exercise, including the handling agents, had a night to remember! I think the entertainment budget took a bit of a hammering, but it was money well spent.

Other pages:

This is the text-only version of this page. Click here to see this page with graphics.
Edit this page | Manage website
Make Your Own Website: 2-Minute-Website.com