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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Oct 23, 2023

The late sixties were a strange time for many reasons. Not the least of which was the regularity that planes were hijacked. Between 1968 and 1972, more than 130 flights in the United States were hijacked, and in June 1972, it happened on a flight out of St. Louis. Just press play to hear the whole story. ------

Click on search links to explore episodes with related content: Adam Kloppe, Crime, Transportation, Aviation, Altercations,------


Podcast Transcript: I'm Adam Kloppe, Public Historian at the Missouri History Museum and Here's History on 88.1 KDHX. ------

On June 23, 1972, a 30-year-old St. Louis businessman named David Hanley was at a bar listening to the news and getting upset. The top story on the local news that evening was the story of yet another airplane hijacking. This time, the hijacking was based out of St. Louis. Frustrated, Hanley told his friend to be prepared for something that would rock the world and then he left the bar.------

The hijacking on June 23rd started in a way fairly typical for that period in American history. As unsettling as this may seem to us today, aircraft hijacking was a fairly common crime at the time. In fact, between 1968 and 1972, more than 130 flights in the United States had been hijacked. The June 23rd hijacking started when a 28-year-old man named Martin McNally boarded a flight in St. Louis. As the plane was beginning its descent into Tulsa, McNally pulled out a gun and approached a flight attendant. He handed her a note demanding $500,000, a shovel, and five parachutes. If he received these things, he said, no one would be hurt.------

The pilots turned the plane back towards St. Louis, where authorities began gathering McNally’s ransom money and planning for a way to catch McNally once all the hostages were free. When the plane landed back in St. Louis so that authorities could hand off the cash to McNally, a crowd gathered outside Lambert Airport to take in the scene firsthand.------

As the onlookers watched, the plane began to taxi to a runway after the money was exchanged. They saw something incredible. Suddenly, a Cadillac Eldorado barreled through the safety fence and begin careening toward the hijacked plane at 80 miles an hour. The car was driven by David Hanley, the man who had promised to rock the world. As Hanley pulled even with the nose of the plane, he smashed into the front wheels and ended up jammed under the left wing, stopping the plane in its tracks.-------

Hanley’s car was badly damaged, though Hanley would suffer only minor injuries, and would later claim that he had no recollection of any of the evening's events. However, for all the excitement of the crash, Hanley hadn't actually put an end to the hijack. No one on board the plane had been hurt, and McNally quickly demanded another plane or else he threatened people would be killed. Authorities found him another 727 which took off from St. Louis in the early morning hours of June 24th. McNally jumped from that plane over Indiana, but lost his bag of money during the descent. Authorities recovered the bag a few days later. McNally himself was arrested five days later in Detroit with only $13 to his name. He was released from federal prison in 2010.------

Here's History is a joint production of KDHX and the Missouri History Museum. I’m Adam Kloppe and this is 88.1 KDHX St. Louis.