Eastern jet hijacked to Havana
By RICHARD WALLACE
And JEFFREY WEISS
Herald Staff Writers
A Latin man who locked himself in a lavatory of an Eastern Airlines jet used threats of violence to hijack the aircraft to Cuba late Tuesday, officials said.
Eastern Flight 414, which was en route from Miami to New York's LaGuardia Airport with 84 passengers and 11 crew members aboard, departed at 9:40 p.m. About 20 minutes later, the pilot radioed "and said he was going to Havana," said Eastern spokesman Bob Christian.
The hijacking was carried out after a Hispanic man entered a rear lavatory, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jack Barker. The man ordered the crew to take the plane to Cuba.
Barker did not know whether the, hijacker carried any weapons. "He just made threats," Barker said by telephone from Atlanta. "We received word that he landed safely in Havana at 11 p.m."
There were no reports of injuries.
"The important thing is that there has never been a passenger hurt in any of these hijackings," Barker sale,.
At Miami International Airport Tower, FAA officials described the aircraft as an A300 Airbus, a European-made wide-body jet.
The hijacking marked the fourth time a U.S. jetliner had been successfully commandeered to Cuba since the beginning of May.
On May 1, a hijacker identified as Rigoberto Gonzalez - a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who had failed on two previous hijack attempts - diverted a Miami-bound Capitol Air DC8 to Havana.
Gonzalez, who once told FBI agents he wanted to "join the revolution in Cuba," had slipped through the U.S. legal system because of his mental illness.
On May 12, a woman who indentified herself as "Sharon" hijacked a second Miami-bound Capitol Air DC8 from Puerto Rico to Cuba, threatening flight attendants with a plastic flare pistol. The plastic pistol slipped through metal detectors at the airport in Puerto Rico.
On May 19, a middle-aged Latin man whose ticket identified him as "C.
Arias" hijacked a New Yorkbound Eastern jet by threatening to blow the
aircraft up with a makeshift bomb he wore about his neck. The plane, carrying
114 passengers and a crew of seven, flew to Havana, stayed about two hours
while Arias was escorted off, and returned to Miami without incident.
Tuesday's hijacking was the second involving an Eastern jet in four weeks.