Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ An-124-100 and IL-76TD90-VD
freighters have proudly completed an emotional homecoming to Germany of a Boeing
737-200 which was hijacked by terrorists in 1977. The former Lufthansa aircraft
is to be fully restored and placed on permanent display in the Dornier Museum in
the town on Friederichshafen.
The aircraft, named after the Bavarian town of ‘Landshut’, was hijacked on
October 13, 1977, en route from Palma, Majorca, to Frankfurt. This was the start
of a four-day ordeal for the passengers and crew as the aircraft was forced to
travel to Rome, Cyprus, Bahrain, Dubai and Aden before reaching its final
destination in Mogadishu, Somalia. The hijacking was ultimately ended by a
daring early morning raid by German special forces which successfully freed all
86 hostages. Tragically, the aircraft’s pilot, Jurgen Schumann, had already lost
his life at the hands of the four terrorists before he could be rescued.
The Boeing 737-200 eventually went back into service and was later sold,
ultimately flying for the Brazilian airline TAF Linhas, before being
decommissioned in 2008. Since then, it had been abandoned at Fortaleza Airport
in northeastern Brazil until the German foreign ministry purchased the 737 in
order to bring it ‘home’, describing the ‘Landshut’ as a living symbol of a free
society, which cannot be defeated by fear and terror.
A large crowd of officials, former crew members from the 1977 flight,
international media and aviation enthusiasts were on hand to see Volga-Dnepr
Airlines’ An-124-100 and IL-76TD-90VD freighters touch down at the local airport
in Friederichshafen. The fuselage and wings of the Boeing 737 was transported in
a special frame for its An-124-100 flight from Brazil, while Volga-Dnepr’s
IL-76TD-90VD carried the 737’s engines and other components.
Mikhail Smirnykh, General Director of Volga-Dnepr Airlines, said: “We are
extremely proud to have been chosen to bring the Boeing 737 ‘Landshut’ home to
Germany. It is a symbol of the nation’s commitment to never bow down to
terrorism. Bringing this Boeing home is very meaningful to us as we share and
support everything it stands for.”