I took my first flight when I was three years old. I was too young to have any real memories of that flight, but I do have pictures of my mom and I standing outside of the airport in San Diego, waiting to go inside where I would be passed off from my mom to a flight attendant, stewardess way back then in 1975, for the flight to Hobby Airport in Houston, TX. I must have flown twenty more times by myself before long distance driving became my family’s preferred mode of travel. I always thought it was because my mom liked road trips, but after reading “The Skies Belong to Us” by Brendan I. Koerner, I think it could also be that in the 1970s, hijackings made flying the ‘friendly’ skies much less friendly.
Koerner’s attention to details highlight a country learning how to navigate the increased number of flights, while trying to understand the personality traits of plane hijackers – and a small note here – many of the first hijackers were disillusioned military veterans – young men who had been sent to Vietnam to fight in a way they couldn’t understand, seemed to just want to get home – wherever home was to them – and hijacking a plane seemed the best way to go.