The Nigerian Times had a story about the value of speaking more than one language tonight.
“A fast-thinking pilot, with the help of passengers, fooled a gunman who had hijacked a jetliner flying from Africa to the Canary Islands, braking hard upon landing then quickly accelerating to knock the man down so travellers could pounce on him, Spanish officials said Friday.
A lone gunman brandishing two pistols hijacked the Air Mauritania Boeing 737, carrying 71 passengers and a crew of eight, Thursday evening shortly after it took off from the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott for Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, with a planned stopover in Nouadhibou in northern Mauritania.
Speaking to the gunman during the hijacking, the pilot realized the man did not speak French. So he used the plane’s public address system to warn the passengers in French of the ploy he was going to try: brake hard upon landing, then speed up abruptly. The idea was to catch the hijacker off balance, and have crew members and men sitting in the front rows of the plane jump on him, the Spanish official said.
The pilot also warned women and children to move to the back of the plane in preparation for the subterfuge, the official said.
It worked. The man was standing in the middle aisle when the pilot carried out his maneuver, and he fell to the floor, dropping one of his two 7mm pistols. Flight attendants then threw boiling water from a coffee machine in his face and at his chest, and some 10 people jumped on the man and beat him, the Spanish official said.