June 15, 1975.
NEW YORK – (UPI) – A man accused of hijacking a Western Airlines jet to Cuba in a 1972 protest of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam was arrested by FBI agents Saturday after his release by the Cuban government and charged with air piracy.
Michael Lynn Hansen, a 24-year-old native of Fargo, N.D., was arrested as he passed through customs at Kennedy Airport after a flight from Bridgetown, Barbados, aboard a Pan American flight.
HANSEN will be charged with commandeering at gunpoint a Western Airlines flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to San Francisco May 5, 1972, ordering the pilot to fly him to North Vietnam, the FBI said.
He said at the time he was hijacking the aircraft to protest U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and he threatened to kill former President Richard M. Nixon if the bombing was not halted, the FBI said.
HANSEN allegedly ordered the pilot to fly him to Hanoi but changed his mind and opted for Havana after he was told the aircraft had a range of only 1,000 miles.
The plane flew on to Los Angeles, where 11 passengers – children and adults with health problems – were allowed to leave the plane. The jet then flew to Dallas where more passengers were allowed to leave the plane. It flew on to Atlanta, Tampa and finally, Havana.
Hansen was the fourth hijacking suspect returned to U.S. custody by the Cuban government under an agreement signed by the two nations more than two years ago.
The State Department announced on June 2 the release of the other three – Gregory Alexander Graves, 26, of Kansas City, Mo., and Carl White and his wife Norma of Detroit.
Graves was charged with a 1971 hijacking of a Delta Air Lines plane en route from Atlanta to Savannah, Ga. The Whites were accused in the 1971 hijacking of a National Airlines plane from Los Angeles to Tampa.
Only one other person has been returned by the Castro regime, a former GI described as “mentally unstable.”