1971: Canada's first successful plane hijacking
The passengers were allowed off the plane before it was rerouted to José Martí Airport in Havana, Cuba, with all six members of the crew on board. After leaving the hijacker in Havana, the Air Canada craft safely returned to Toronto.
- Capt. Donald Glendinning,
- First officer Richard Reid,
- Flight attendants Virginia Harnadek, Jeanne Keldson, Ruth-Anne Snell and Helga Weterings.
• No one was hurt in the hijacking. The hijacker permitted the 82 passengers on board to get off the plane before the flight was rerouted to Cuba. Passengers only found out about the hijacking after the event. • The hijacker was identified as Patrick Dolan Critton, a 24-year-old American citizen from Harlem. He told the crew that he was going to Cuba because of his involvement in a bank robbery where a woman was shot.
• Although the hijacker's note referred to "we," there was only one person rerouting the plane. • It was Air Canada's second hijacking incident of the year. The first happened about a month earlier when a man tried unsuccessfully to hijack an Air Canada plane out of Calgary. • An Air Canada official admitted that many small airports, including Thunder Bay, lacked the equipment to detect bombs or guns being carried on board by passengers.
• On Jan 25, 1972, Canada officially asked Cuba to extradite Critton for the hijacking of Air Canada jet. Cuba didn't respond to the request. • In 2001, Critton was arrested in New York for the Air Canada hijacking 30 years earlier. Toronto police had tracked the American hijacker down using the internet. • An interview with Critton, which was suppose to appear on the Globe and Mail's front page, was unpublished due to coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
• In 2002, Critton pleaded guilty to all charges related to the hijacking. He was extradited to Ontario and sentenced to three years in federal prison.
• Prior to his arrest, Critton had been a respected community leader and middle school teacher in Mount Vernon, New York.
Also on December 26:
• 1791: The Constitutional Act takes effect, dividing Canada into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec).
• 1898: French physicists Pierre and Marie Curie announce the discovery of radium. It took them four more years to isolate the element in its pure form.
• 2004: An 9.3 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a tsunami that kills over 230,000 people in an area from Indonesia to Somalia.
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 28, 1971
Last updated: March 20, 2013
Page consulted on December 5, 2013
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