September 6, 1970
"Palestinian guerrillas in a bold coordinated action ... thrust back to the world's attention a problem diplomats have tended to shove aside in hesitant steps towards Middle East peace."Walter Cronkite, September 6, 1970
New York-Bound Plane Hijacked
At 12:20pm local time, terrorists armed with guns and hand grenades seize TWA Flight 74, a Boeing 707 traveling from Frankfurt to New York, carrying 145 passengers and ten crew members.
Four Palestinian terrorists are detained while boarding El Al Flight 219, a Boeing 707 departing Amsterdam for New York. Prior to its 1:20pm scheduled departure, security removes two of the group because their passport numbers are sequential. The other two militants, Leila Khaled and Patrick Arguello, board the plane.
Second Plane Hijacked
At 1:14pm local time, Palestinian terrorists seize Swissair Flight 100, a DC-8 en route from Zurich to New York, carrying 143 passengers and twelve crew members.
Third Plane Hijacked
At 1:45 pm local time, Leila Khaled and Patrick Arguello run towards the cockpit on El Al Flight 219, holding grenades and shouting. Pilot Uri Bar Lev puts the plane into a nose dive. In the confusion, Arguello shoots a flight steward, security guards restrain Khaled, and an air marshal mortally wounds Arguello. The hijacking has failed and the flight heads to London to land.
Terrorists Board Fourth Plane
Between 2pm and 3pm local time -- after Amsterdam airport security staff fail to detect pistols and a concealed grenade -- the two terrorists who had been removed from El Al Flight 219 take first-class seats on a Pan Am 747 jumbo jet, Flight 93 departing for New York.
Hijacking of Third Plane Fails
Less than twenty minutes after the attempted hijacking, Pilot Uri Bar Lev lands the El Al Flight at Heathrow Airport in London. Police escort Leila Khaled and Patrick Arguello to a nearby hospital. Arguello dies en route and authorities arrest Leila Khaled for the attempted hijacking of El Al Flight 219.
Fourth Plane Hijacked
At 3:30pm local time, the two terrorists commandeer Pan Am Flight 93 en route from Amsterdam to New York, carrying 152 passengers and 23 crew members.
First Plane Lands in Jordan
At 6:45pm local time, the first hijacked plane, TWA Flight 74, lands in Jordan at Dawson Field, a desert airstrip which the terrorists dub "Revolution Airport."
Second Plane Lands in Jordan
At 6:55pm local time -- ten minutes after TWA Flight 74 lands -- the second hijacked plane, Swissair Flight 100, lands at Revolution Airport.
Fourth Plane Diverted
Hijackers divert Pan Am Flight 93, the jumbo 747, from its New York route to refuel in Beirut. The pilots have convinced them that the plane is too large to land at the desert airfield in Jordan. In Beirut, nine more Palestinian terrorists board the plane and wire it with explosives before it departs at 9:35pm local time for Cairo.
Standoff With Hostages
At 11:00pm, the Jordanian army surrounds the two planes that have landed at Revolution Airport with tanks and artillery. Three hundred and ten hostages prepare for a tense night in the desert.