On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 cargo jet ferrying electronics across the United States from Memphis, Tennessee to San Jose, California, experienced an attempted hijacking for the purpose of a suicide attack.

Auburn Calloway, a FedEx employee facing possible dismissal for lying about his previous flying experience, boarded the scheduled flight as a deadheading passenger with a guitar case carrying several hammers and a speargun. He intended to disable the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder before take-off and, once airborne, kill the crew using the blunt force of the hammers so their injuries would appear consistent with an accident rather than a hijacking. The speargun would be a last resort. He would then crash the aircraft while just appearing to be an employee killed in an accident. This would make his family eligible for a $2.5 million life insurance policy paid by Federal Express.[1]

Calloway's plan was unsuccessful. Despite severe injury, the crew was able to fight back, subdue Calloway and safely land the aircraft. An attempt at a mental health defense was unsuccessful and Calloway was subsequently convicted of multiple charges including attempted murder, attempted air piracy and interference with flight crew operations. He received two consecutive life sentences. Calloway's appeal was successful in having his conviction for interference ruled as a lesser included offense of attempted air piracy.[2] The crew was left with permanent, disabling injuries and have not flown professionally since.

Crew, cargo and destination Edit

The scheduled three-man flight crew consisted of 49-year-old Captain David Sanders, 42-year-old First Officer James Tucker, and 39-year-old Flight Engineer Andrew Peterson. At the time of the incident First Officer James Tucker held the position of Captain at Federal Express on the DC-10 and was also a check airman on the type. Aboard flight 705 Tucker assumed the role of first officer. Flight 705 was scheduled to San Jose, California and carried electronic equipment destined for Silicon Valley.

Hijacker Edit

The then 42-year-old FedEx Express Flight Engineer Auburn Calloway, an alumnus of Stanford University and a former military pilot and martial arts expert, faced termination of employment over irregularities in the reporting of flight hours[2] . Calloway intended to murder the flight crew using blunt force in order to disguise the hijacking as an accident so that his family would benefit from his $2.5 million life insurance policy. To accomplish this he brought aboard two claw hammers, two sledge hammers and a speargun he concealed inside a guitar case.[2] It is unclear how Calloway planned to crash the plane. Just prior to the flight Calloway had transferred over $50,000 in securities and cashiers checks to his ex-wife.[2] He also carried a note aboard, written to her "describing the author's apparent despair".[2]

Hijacking Edit

As part of his plan to disguise the intended attack as an accident, Calloway attempted to disable the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) by tripping its circuit breaker. During standard pre-flight checks, Peterson noticed the tripped breaker and reset it prior to takeoff so the CVR was reactivated.[3] About twenty minutes after takeoff, as the flight crew carried on a casual conversation, Calloway entered the flight deck and commenced his attack. Every member of the crew took multiple hammer blows which fractured both Peterson's and Tucker's skulls, severing the former's temporal artery.[2] A lengthy struggle ensued with the flight engineer and captain as Tucker, also an ex-Navy pilot, performed extreme aerial maneuvers with the aircraft meant to keep the hijacker off balance.[1]

The flight crew eventually succeeded in restraining Calloway, though only after moments of inverted, near-transonic flight beyond the designed capabilities of a DC-10. At this point Sanders took control and Tucker, who had by then lost use of the right side of his body, went back to assist Peterson in restraining Calloway. Sanders communicated with ATC, deactivated the auto pilot, and prepared for an emergency landing.

Complaining that he could not breathe, Calloway started fighting with the crew again.

Heavily loaded with fuel and cargo, the plane was also coming in too fast and too high to land on the scheduled runway 9. Sanders requested by radio to land on the longer runway 36. Using a series of sharp turns that tested the DC-10's safety limits, ignoring warning messages from the onboard computer, and well over the designed landing weight, the jet safely touched down at Memphis International Airport. By that time, Calloway was once again restrained. Emergency personnel gained access to the plane via escape slide and ladder. Blood covered the cockpit interior.[3]

Aftermath Edit

The crew of Flight 705 sustained serious injuries:[2] Tucker's skull was severely fractured, causing motor control problems in his right arm and right leg. Calloway had also dislocated Tucker's jaw, attempted to gouge out one of his eyes, and stabbed his right arm. Sanders suffered several deep gashes in his head and doctors had to sew his right ear back in place. Flight engineer Peterson's skull was fractured and his temporal artery severed. The aircraft itself incurred damages in the amount of $800,000.[2]

Calloway pleaded temporary insanity but was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on August 15, 1995, for attempted murder and attempted air piracy.[1] Calloway, Federal Bureau of Prisons #14601-076, is imprisoned in the United States Penitentiary, Atwater near Atwater, California.[4]

On May 26, 1994, the Air Line Pilots Association awarded Dave Sanders, James Tucker, and Andrew Peterson the Gold Medal Award for heroism, the highest award a civilian pilot can receive. Due to the extent and severity of their injuries, none of the crew has, so far, been recertified as medically fit to fly commercially. The attempted hijacking was later featured on Discovery Channel Canada's television show Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency). The episode (season 3, episode 4) was titled "Fight for Your Life (Suicide Attack)".

Following the incident, First Officer James Tucker was deemed medically unable to return to commercial aviation. He took advantage of the 2004 Light Sport Aircraft regulations and returned to recreational flying in a Luscombe 8A. With this aircraft, Tucker has taught his son, Andy Tucker, to fly. Tucker has also become a lay minister and has served as a lay pastor at local churches in the Headland, Alabama, area.[5]

As of January 2011, the aircraft involved still flies for FedEx as a converted MD-10-30F and is registered as N306FE.[6]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 National Geographic, Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency). Episode (Season 3, Episode 4), "Fight for Your Life (Suicide Attack)"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Case No. 95-6206 United States v Calloway
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. "Auburn Calloway." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
  5. Template:Cite web

Further reading Edit

  • Hijacked: The True Story of the Heroes of Flight 705, Dave Hirschman, William Morrow, 1997, ISBN 978-0688152673

External links Edit

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