Thursday 2 May 2024

Aer Lingus Flight 164 Hijacked


Aer Lingus Flight 164, a scheduled passenger service was hijacked on the 2nd of May 1981 while flying from Dublin, Ireland (DUB/EIDW) to London Heathrow England ((LHR/EGLL).

As the plane was preparing to land at Heathrow, Laurence James Downey, a 55-year-old Australian, soaked himself in petrol in the lavatory. He then entered the cockpit, demanding the aircraft be flown to Le Touquet – Côte d'Opale Airport (LTQ/LFAT) in France to refuel for a flight to Tehran, Iran. After landing in Le Touquet, Downey insisted on the Irish press publishing a nine-page document, which he had the pilot toss from the cockpit.

Following an eight-hour standoff, during which Downey released 11 of the 112 hostages, French special forces took control of the aircraft and captured Downey. The operation concluded without gunfire or injuries. Investigations revealed that Downey was wanted by Perth police in Australia for a $70,000 land fraud and in Shannon, Ireland, for an alleged assault. In February 1983, he received a five-year sentence in Saint-Omer, France, for air piracy.

Downey professed in his manifesto to have been a Trappist monk at Tre Fontane Abbey during the 1950s, a claim later verified by the monastery. Post-expulsion for assaulting a superior, he worked as a tour guide in Portugal at a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fátima. During the hijacking, he demanded the Vatican disclose the third secret of Fatima, known only to the Pope and select church dignitaries.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Aer Lingus
Code: EI/EIN
Aircraft: Boeing 737-248C
Registration: EI-ASD
Serial Number: 20219
Engines: 2 x PW JT8D-9A
First Flew: 26/09/1969
Age: 12 Years old

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