Episode 5 – Miss Macao: The first commercial airliner to be hijacked

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By Plane Crash Diaries and Desmond Latham. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
I’m your host and pilot, Desmond Latham. Every week we tackle a different area of aviation and this week it’s the history of hijackings. The first ever hijacking of a commercial plane took place on the 16th July 1948. It involved a Catalina Seaplane owned by Cathay Pacific and operated by subsidiary Macau Air Transport Company registered in Hong Kong. At that time Hong Kong was still a British Territory. And ironically the plane that took off from the sea was going to be affected by what was called piracy originally. The struggle between the Nationalists and the Communists was in full flow – the civil war reverberated around the region and law and order had collapsed in many parts of China. The Miss Macao, as the seaplane was called, was on a routine flight from Macau to Hong Kong. In 1948 Macao was a Portuguese territory. But it never made it to the rapidly growing metropolis of Hong Kong. The plane was hijacked a few minutes after take-off by four men, three armed with guns, one of whom demanded that the pilot surrender the controls. Just to add to the crazy scenario – he was from Mexico but was not Mexican. The pilot, an American by the name of Dale Warren Cramer, refused to hand over control to the hijackers and at that moment his co-pilot attacked one of the intruders with a flag-post rod. In the confusion, Cramer was shot dead, and collapsed onto the flight controls. The plane went into an uncontrolled dive and crashed into the sea. Miraculously one person survived by jumping out of the emergency exit as the plane hit the ocean. Unfortunately it was one of the hijackers although in a sense some would say its fortunate that at least someone survived to tell the story. Twenty-five of the twenty-six people aboard died in the crash. Through this series you’re going to hear how often one person survives – and its more often than you think.

25 episodes