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Father-and-Son Team Try to Hijack Jet Airliner, Arrested by FBI

Aug. 3, 1961 - Leon Bearden (left), a 38-year-old former convict, and his 16-year-old son Cody (right) hijacked a jet airliner in the air today. They held control of it for nine hours before they were captured. Sixty-seven passengers and six crew members were aboard the Boeing 707 when the hijackers seized it and ordered the pilot to fly to Cuba. The elder Bearden, due to a host of financial and psychological problems, had decided that the U.S. was rotten to the core. His plan was to give Fidel Castro the airplane as a gift and earn political asylum. He and his son apparently had no connection to the Castro regime. The hijackers let the plane's pilot land the jet at El Paso International Airport to refuel. The father-and-son team permitted most of the passengers, some of them hysterical, to get off at El Paso. But they kept 10 hostages - 4 passengers and 6 crew members. After hours of dickering, the hijackers ordered the pilot to take off. As the plane began to taxi, Government agents drove alongside and fired machine-gun and rifle bullets at the craft, crippling it and bringing it to a stop. Bearden and his son were placed in handcuffs and charged with kidnapping and transporting the stolen $5 million plane across a state line.


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