That Lipstick is an EXPLOSION of Color!

by Phillip Nicholson

In 1972, just two years after the release of Universal Pictures dramatic airborne feature Airport, we saw the release of SKYJACKED, based on the David Harper novel HIJACKED. Starring Charlton Heston as the airline captain at the forefront of a hijacking. Onboard Global Airways Flight 502, a routine flight to Minneapolis, a passenger discovers a bomb threat written in lipstick on the mirror of one of the first class bathrooms, soon a secondary threat is found on a screwed up napkin in the galley that reads, “Bomb on plane, divert to Anchorage- Alaska. NO joke! NO tricks! Death!”.

The cryptic clues have the desired effect and Captain O’Hara changes course for Anchorage and lowers his altitude to avoid explosive decompression should a bomb detonate. Lots of nail biting moments occur throughout including a very near mid-air collision, an early onset labour & a federal agent becomes a pawn in this potentially deadly situation. Shortly after landing at Anchorage, the identity of the alleged bomber is revealed to be a Vietnam veteran slowly being driven mad by the traumas he endured while serving his tour of duty who saw this in his broken down state as his only chance of a hero welcome! As the crew and rest of the passengers begin to wonder if there even is a bomb, he reveals he is heavily armed and threatens to detonate a grenade should his demands not be met.

 Eventually backing down slightly, he frees the economy class passengers and crew but then demands to be flown to Moscow with the remaining first class passengers as his insurance, proving that his reign of terror isn’t child’s play and he is in fact 100% serious about his intentions. Initially, the Soviets deny Global Airlines Flight 502 clearance at Moscow, as F100’s intercept the Boeing 707 they are satisfied it is a commercial airliner and the tower relent and allow it to land on a runway away from the terminal. Permitting the remaining hostages to leave, Captain O’Hara is now left alone with his disturbed captor who reveals there never was any bomb, and quickly realising that they’re not welcoming him with open arms. The hijacker prepares to fire on the Soviets who’ve surrounded the aircraft. O’Hara tries to intervene and a shot is fired tumbling down the air stairs together in a scuffle, the hijacker is immobilised by the commandos, and wounded but alive. O’Hara looks up to the sky and smiles as he sees a departing aircraft. This wouldn’t be the first time we saw Heston at the controls of an airliner as three years after the release of SKYJACKED we see him save the crippled Columbia Airlines flight in Airport 1975.

Interesting Facts

♦ The F-100 Super Sabre’s sent to intercept Global 502 were American aircraft sporting temporary Russian camouflage
♦ The ‘Global Airways’ aircraft seen in the movie was a Boeing 707 (N374WA) loaned from World Airways. World Airways home-base at the time of filming was Oakland Metropolitan Airport where 90% of the airport scenes were filmed.
♦ The in-flight scenes of the “Soviet Jets” was actually old film footage of American fighters performing at airshows.

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