The Pan Am Podcast

Episode 27: Flight 73 Hostage Negotiations and Hijacking Aftermath

September 26, 2022 Pan Am Museum Foundation Season 2 Episode 27
The Pan Am Podcast
Episode 27: Flight 73 Hostage Negotiations and Hijacking Aftermath
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Show Notes

This episode is a continuation of Episode 26 about the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73. On September 5th 1986, at around 5:10am local time in Karachi, Pakistan, a Boeing 747 named Clipper Empress of the Seas was hijacked by four armed Palestinian commandos on the ground during the boarding process with almost 400 people on the aircraft. 

In this episode we will presenting interviews with three former Pan Am employees who were part of the aftermath: Viraf Daroga, Pan Am's Country Director for Pakistan;  Wendy Sue Knecht, Pan Am Flight Attendant and Trainer; and Diane Krumholtz Lyras of the White Plains Pan Am sales office and part of the crisis response team. 

We are presenting these two episodes about Flight 73 back-to-back to give listeners a complete and objective look at what happen during this historic event, and the immediate aftermath, through primary sources and first-hand accounts. 

Viraf Daroga will share his perspective on the hostage negotiations and his desperate attempts to save as many lives as he could. The nightmare of Flight 73 did not end on that tragic day in September of 1986, as the terrorist group responsible continued to threaten the lives of him and his family for many years afterward. 

Wendy Sue Knecht who was stationed in Bombay in 1986 tasked with training new flight attendants hired in India. She is the author of the book "Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir" and is featured in Episode 9 of this program. 

Diane Krumholtz Lyras, an employee from the White Plains sales office, who was immediately sent to Karachi as part of the airline’s crisis response team to assist staff and families in the aftermath of the senseless violence. 

 A total of 20 people, ranging in ages from 7 years old to 81, included two Pan Am crew members and 18 passengers, were ultimately killed in this act of terrorism.

22 year old Pan Am Senior Purser Neerja Bhanot died as a result of her injuries and was posthumously  awarded India’s highest civilian peacetime honor for bravery, the Ashoka Chakra, and became a revered national figure in India. 

 28 year old Pan Am Mechanic Meherjee Minocher Kharas was also killed by the terrorists when they opened fire inside the plane. 

Both served their passengers with great honor, bravery, and valor. 

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A very special thanks to Mr. Adam Aron, Chairman and CEO of AMC and president of the Pan Am Historical Foundation and Pan Am Brands for their continued and unwavering support!