it's been some time since my last journal entry, as life has been keeping me pretty busy, which you may have noticed by the low number of photos I put up. I just wanted to mention some news that I found quite interesting, and perhaps some of you will too, if you're interested in aircraft. I submitted this photo
years ago, using it as an excuse for some history babble that you can still read in the description, if you're so inclined.
To cut a long story short, the "Landshut", a Lufthansa 737-230C, was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1977 at the height of the German Autumn in order to force the German government to release members of the Red Army Faction from prison. They were a violent far-left militant group that was responsible for a number of assassinations, abductions, bomb and arson attacks. The airliner, en route from Palma de Mallorca to Frankfurt, was taken over by four hijackers and flown to Rome, Larnaca, Bahrain, Dubai, Aden and finally Mogadishu. The passengers had to endure the constant terror from the crazed leader of the hijackers, a forced landing on a sand strip due to the runway in Aden being purposefully blocked by vehicles, as well as sitting in the blazing desert heat with no air conditioning when fuel ran out while on the ground. The pilot, Jürgen Schumann, was shot by one of the hijackers in Aden, leaving the co-pilot Jürgen Vietor to fly the plane to Mogadishu alone. It was there that the (at that point completely unkown) GSG 9, an elite tactical unit formed after the Munich massacre, stormed the plane, freeing all hostages and killing three of the four terrorists within minutes. After hearing about this on the radio, a number of imprisoned RAF members commited suicide. It was a turning point in the German Autumn, showing that the government was willing and able to fight back, not bowing to terrorist demands. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt personally gave the order for the storming, ready to take responsibility for any deaths that may have occurred, his written resignation at hand, which was destroyed after the successful freeing of all hostages.
The aircraft in question received only minor damage and returned to regular service with Lufthansa. In the mid-80s, it was sold, converted to a freighter, going through six owners, ending up with TAF Linhas Aéreas. In 2008, a severe defect during takeoff sealed her fate, ending up pushed to a distant corner of Fortaleza International Airport with other abandoned airframes of defunct airlines.
Back when I first became interested in this topic, I lamented that this aircraft, such a symbol for a turning point in German history, is rotting away somewhere in Brazil. I always thought that it should be put up as a monument to those who lost their lives in the German Autumn, and those whose heroism and uncompromising stance lead to a victory over the RAF's terror. Now though, this is exactly what happened. Thanks to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the aircraft was bought for its scrap value and will be dismantled for shipping to Germany. There, a team from Lufthansa will restore her before she'll be displayed at the Dornier-Museum in Friedrichshafen. To my mind, that's a happy ending to this 737's career.