This is what happened

(CNN Spanish) – On April 10, “Hijacking of Flight 601,” a six-episode miniseries based on one of the most dramatic events in aviation history, premiered on Netflix across Colombia and Latin America.

Between 1967 and 1973, the golden age of air piracy, nearly 90 planes were hijacked in Latin America, about 30 of which occurred in Colombia, according to Italian journalist Massimo Di Rico in his book “The Condemnation of the Air.” ” 2020, from which the Netflix series was inspired.

This is the story that happened.

On May 30, 1973, two men hijacked a Lockheed Electra HK-1274 of the defunct Colombian airline Sociedad Aeronáutica de Medellín (SAM), according to De Rico and the media. the viewer And Time That includes events.

The flight took off from Pereira, Colombia with 84 people on board en route from Medellin to Cali and Pereira.

As it crossed the Andes, individuals identified as Eusebio Borja and Francisco Solano López – claiming to be members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas – seized control of the plane, when in fact they were two soccer players of Paraguayan descent. Economic difficulties.

At first, travelers thought it was a joke. “We thought that's what bothering us is all about,” recalls one of them – the cyclist Luis Alfonso Riadegui, who died in 2022. Interview with the Radio Ambulant podcast from National Public Radio (NPR) in 2021.

Armed and masked men “shot up part of the apartment and told us to be quiet, saying it was a kidnapping,” Retegui explained.

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A dramatic journey spanning 24,000 km, 12 landings and 12 takeoffs lasting 60 hours began, in what is considered one of the longest hijackings in world aviation and the longest in Latin America. According to El Tiempo.

According to reports by El Tiempo and Radio Ambulante, the plane's captain, Jaime Lucena, was ordered to the Caribbean island of Aruba. Lucerna reported from the air that they had been hijacked and needed fuel, so they made their first stop at Medellin, an “air condemnation” detail.

The kidnappers had two demands: US$200,000 and the release of political prisoners in Colombia. They warned that if their demands were not met, they would have to inspect the plane with the passengers. L'Espectator was mentioned in its coverage of the period.

Meanwhile, passengers must sit quietly and ask permission to move from their seats.


Just before the plane arrived in Aruba, negotiations with Borja and Solano turned complicated. SAM's negotiating lawyer, Ignacio Mustafá, offered only US$20,000, De Rico told Radio Ambulante.

“It was a ridiculous offer for the hijackers. There were other problems: not only did they have to negotiate with the airline, but they also had to deal with various governments. One, they were in Aruba, and the local authorities wanted them to leave early. Because the plane was hijacked there, the airport could not continue to operate. On the other hand, the Colombian Officers were there, and they still haven't responded. He explained.

The hijackers dropped about 40 passengers in Aruba due to lack of water and food.

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Hours later, as they waited for answers to their demands, the Colombian government announced it would not negotiate, and discussions were left in the hands of the airline, El Colombiano newspaper detailed in its coverage.

The answer is anger, a concept called air pirates – RAE Define “A person who, under threats, causes the crew of an airplane to alter its course” – They forced the pilot to take off for Lima, Peru, but a technical problem forced them to return to Aruba.

Already in Aruba, a group of passengers decided to escape by opening the emergency door and jumping onto the runway. According to the El Espectador archive.

With no agreement reached in the negotiations, Lockheed Electra took off again. El Tiempo says he traveled around Panama, Costa Rica and El Salvador, but had to return to Aruba without permission to land.

There, officials asked the hijackers to allow them to transfer the crew, in exchange for the airline sending them a briefcase with US$50,000. The men accepted and released another group of passengers.

After about 38 hours of hijacking, the plane took off first for Guayaquil, Ecuador and then for Lima, where 14 of the 26 remaining passengers were released, Radio Ambulant reported.

The smugglers disappeared

The flight took off again, this time to Mendoza, Argentina. The hijackers let the rest of the passengers off the plane, abandoning negotiations for ransom.

After a 55-hour hijacking, the SAM plane landed in Buenos Aires with no passengers, De Rico recalled.

In his message about the events, Time And El Espectador, on May 2, 1973, reported that the kidnapping had ended, with both kidnappers able to escape and recover US$50,000 in cash.

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According to the observerThe leak occurred during a brief refueling stop at an airport in Argentina.

The version is similar De Rico's Narrative for Radio AmbulanteHe pointed out that the smugglers escaped in one of the brief landings recorded on the border between Argentina and Paraguay.

After the kidnapping, Francisco Solano López was arrested and extradited to Colombia, where he was imprisoned for five years, while Eusebio Borja was never caught or heard from, El Espectador and Radio Ambulante agree.

This story was originally published on April 17 and has been updated.

Gillian Patton

"Tv aficionado. Lifelong communicator. Travel ninja. Hardcore web buff. Typical music geek."

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