Throwback Thursday: Japan Airlines Flight 404 1973

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Wikimedia Commons Image
Author: Ralf Manteufel
Date: August 19, 1983
Source: Air Britain Photo Library
Similar plane to the hijacked one.
Acquired: Wikimedia Commons

Fifty years ago, today…

Japan Air Lines Flight 404 was a passenger flight which was hijacked by Palestinian and Japanese terrorists on July 20, 1973. The flight departed Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport, Netherlands, […], en route to Tokyo International Airport […], Japan, via Anchorage International Airport, Alaska. The aircraft was a Boeing 747-246B, with 123 passengers and 22 crew members on board. The passenger complement included five terrorists, led by Osamu Maruoka, a member of the Japanese Red Army and the other four were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The flight was hijacked shortly after takeoff from Schiphol. In the course of the hijacking, a grenade carried by one of the skyjackers detonated, killing her and injuring the flight’s chief purser. The lead hijacker […] immediately announced himself to air traffic control as El Kassar, hijacking the aircraft in the name of the Palestinian Liberation movement. After several Middle Eastern governments refused to permit Flight 404 to land, the plane eventually touched down in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. After several days on the ground, the terrorists demanded the release of Kozo Okamoto, survivor of the JRA’s attack on Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport.

After the Israeli government refused to release Okamoto, the hijackers flew the aircraft first to Damascus, Syria, and then to Benghazi, in Libya. On July 23, 89 hours after the hijacking began, the passengers and crew were released. [The] hijackers then blew up the aircraft, making the incident the second hull loss of a Boeing 747. The first hull-loss was also the result of hijackers. Maruoka escaped and in 1977, led the hijacking of Japan Air Lines Flight 472. He remained a fugitive, until 1987, when he was arrested in Tokyo after entering Japan on a forged passport. Given a life sentence, he died in prison on May 29, 2011.

Wikipedia Summary

The Skyjackers Strike Again (Time Magazine/07-30-1973/Wayback Machine)
Skyjackers: Part II (Time Magazine/07-30-1973/Wayback Machine)
Chronology Of Aviation Terrorism: 1968-2004 (Skyjack Chronology/Dr. Hillel Avihai/Wayback Machine)
Aviation Safety Network Database (JL404/Aviation Letter 184/07-23-1973)
Ex-Red Army Member Maruoka Dies (The Japan Times/05-30-2011)

July 22

July 25

July 26

19 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Japan Airlines Flight 404 1973

    doerfpub said:
    July 23, 2023 at 5:49 PM

    Can’t believe that premature grenade detonation didn’t take that plane out of the sky.

    Badfinger (Max) said:
    July 27, 2023 at 9:54 PM

    I was going to ask the same question…how did it not crash the plane? In the seventies hijackings were going on everywhere…going to Cuba also.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      July 28, 2023 at 2:05 PM

      Having thought about it, I can only surmise that the grenade was close to the hijacker’s body, with the Chief Purser close and they took the brunt of the blast, together. Others might be injured with shrapnel and the windows close by could have blown out. The plane could still fly, particularly at low altitude (I watch a LOT of Air Disasters on Smithsonian…LOL). There are stories of soldiers throwing themselves onto grenades to save comrades. One body can prevent or minimize shrapnel from hitting others.

        Badfinger (Max) said:
        July 28, 2023 at 2:33 PM

        Yea that is true…it must have been in a spot where the plane was more protected.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          July 28, 2023 at 4:09 PM

          Possibly close to the cockpit?

            Badfinger (Max) said:
            July 28, 2023 at 4:18 PM

            Yea and her body took more of it like you said.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              July 28, 2023 at 4:25 PM

              Just a guess… The plane continued on to Dubai, Syria & Libya…THEN, it was blown up, totally.

                Badfinger (Max) said:
                July 28, 2023 at 4:29 PM

                I can’t believe they let them go

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  July 28, 2023 at 5:16 PM

                  They couldn’t afford the loss of the hostages/passengers. No country would want to be held responsible for their deaths.

                    Badfinger (Max) said:
                    July 28, 2023 at 5:17 PM

                    Oh ok…yea bombs would have reigned down probably.

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      July 28, 2023 at 5:20 PM

                      Or some kind of commando raid.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      July 28, 2023 at 2:06 PM

      It WAS crazy how planes were being hijacked, left and right.

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