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Pilot’s Story: Terrorists Didn’t Know His Wife Was Passenger on Plane

May 11, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Capt. Reginald Levy, pilot of the hijacked Sabena jet, disclosed last night how he successfully managed to keep from the Arab terrorists the fact that his wife was one of the 90 passengers they held hostage for 24 hours. He also disclosed that he had asked Israeli authorities to take care of their four children should “anything go wrong.”

Mrs. Levy accompanied her husband on the flight that originated in Brussels Monday because Tuesday was his 50th birthday and they had planned to celebrate in Israel. The celebration turned out to be a gals dinner party given last night in Capt. Levy’s honor by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who hailed the British-born RAF veteran for his courage and calm under severe stress.

Capt. Levy said that throughout the ordeal he never hinted that one of the passengers was his wife because he feared the terrorists would seize her as a special hostage. But he said he had managed to pass a note to her telling her not to worry and that he had asked Israeli authorities to look after their children.


The pilot said that at one point he tried, unsuccessfully, to wrest a gun from one of the terrorists. He said the terrorists appeared ready to carry out their threat to blow up the plane unless Israel agreed to their demand to free at least 100 Arab terrorists held in Israeli jails.

According to Capt. Levy’s description of events the ruse that liberated the plane worked because of the gullibility of the hijackers. Israeli authorities pretended to agree to their demands. An old TWA jet stationed at the airport for maintenance was pulled alongside the Sabena jet and the terrorists thought it was being prepared to fly them to Cairo with the freed terrorist prisoners. They were so happy they embraced a Greek priest who was a passenger, Levy said.

At that moment, the pilot was escorting Israeli soldiers dressed in the white coveralls of maintenance men to the plane. When they entered he ordered all passengers to take shelter under their seats. Then the shooting started, he said. Dayan presented the Levys with gifts, relics from his various archaeological digs. The captain was given an ancient spearhead and his wife an ancient perfume jar.

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