The Cooper hijacking marked the beginning of the end for unfettered and unscrutinized airline travel. Despite the initiation of the federal sky marshal program the previous year, 31 hijackings were committed in U.S. airspace in 1972; 19 of them were for the specific purpose of extorting money and most of the rest were attempts to reach Cuba. In 15 of the extortion cases the hijackers also demanded parachutes. In early 1973 the FAA began requiring airlines to search all passengers and their bags. Amid multiple lawsuits charging that such searches violated Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, federal courts ruled that they were acceptable when applied universally, and when limited to searches for weapons and explosives. In contrast to the 31 hijackings in 1972, only two were attempted in 1973, both by psychiatric patients, one of whom intended to crash the airliner into the White House to kill President Nixon.

posted by francopoli: 385 days ago