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In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of '60s idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Some hijackers wished to escape to foreign lands; others aimed to swap hostages for sacks of cash. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when shattered Army veteran Roger Holder and mischievous party girl Cathy Kerkow managred to comandeer Western Airlines Flight 701 and flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom—a heist that remains the longest-distance hijacking in American history.

More than just an enthralling story about a spectacular crime and its bittersweet, decades-long aftermath, The Skies Belong to Us is also a psychological portrait of America at its most turbulent and a testament to the madness that can grip a nation when politics fail.


The Skies Belong to Us
Average rating
4.7 / 5
Shockingly entertaining history of commercial air travel
November 3rd, 2014
There were so many moments in this book when I had to look up and tell someone what I just learned about how air travel used to be, only 40 years ago! The frequency of hijackings is astonishing, as is the routines and countermeasures that were developed around the epidemic. Pilots used to just know how to get to Havana, and the Cuban government and US State Dept had a pretty well-established routine for returning aircraft to US soil. This is one of those non-fiction books that reads as fluidly as a long magazine article.
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