Lufthansa 737 hijacked 40 years ago to be returned home to Germany

Boeing 737-230 Lufthansa Foto: Boeing Lufthansa 01.1985 D113-13-305 737-200, D-ABMA Idar-Oberstein

A Lufthansa 737 — named Landshut — the plane hijacked by a Palestinian group demanding the release of Red Army Faction members in 1977 at the peak of “German Autumn” will return to Germany in September.

The Lufthansa Boeing 737, hijacked at the height of the Red Army Faction’s campaign and against West Germany, will call the Dornier Museum home. The museum focuses on aviation and aerospace and is located in the southern German town of Friedrichshafen.

The aircraft had been parked at Fortaleza airport in Brazil gathering dust since 2008. It will be dismantled and transported to Germany before it is restored.

Four PLFP members hijacked Lufthansa Flight 181 from Mallorca to Frankfurt on October 13, 1977. The “Landshut,” named after a city in Bavaria, then embarked on a four-day journey through the Arabian Peninsula, stopping in five different cities to refuel.

The hijackers held the 86 passengers and five crew members hostage in an attempt to secure the release of 10 RAF members being held in Stuttgart plus two imprisoned Palestinians in Turkey and $15 million (about 35 million German marks at the time). The plane’s captain, Jürgen Schumann, was executed in Aden, a city in southern Yemen.

The plane eventually settled in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu on October 17, 1977. After negotiations with the Somalian government, the German foreign ministry sent the country’s elite tactical unit GSG 9 – which had been established five years prior following the hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics – to retake the plane.

Three of the four hijackers were killed during the ambush, known as Operation Feuerzauber, while one commando and four passengers were injured in the exchange. The German commandos and the 86 “Landshut” passengers then returned to Germany on October 18, 1977.

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