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Blast from the Past: Man Admits Hijacking Plane 41 Years Ago

March 18, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,News,Security,Travel Safety

hijacking plane

About time. 67-year old Luis Armando Pena Soltren appeared in a Manhattan court today to plead guilty to hijacking a Pan Am plane heading to Puerto Rico back in November of 1968.

According to reporters present, he admitted holding a knife to a flight attendant’s throat. At least one of his fellow hijackers had a gun.

At the direction of the hijackers, the pilot flew the plane to Cuba – the then fashionable destination of the day.

In fact, the frequency of hijackings to Cuba and elsewhere is why airports began using metal detectors. In 1968 and 1969 alone, there were 120 hijackings around the world; U.S. airports began installing metal detectors in 1973.  

Anyway, this fellow returned from Cuba voluntarily, apparently, hoping for leniency, or at least a sentence below the guidelines that call for roughly 22 to 30 years. Perhaps he should have returned before 9/11. Sentencing is set for June.

I’ve got some questions:

Why did he want to go to Cuba? How was he treated there? Why come back now? And most of all – was it worth it, Mr. Pena Soltren?

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