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Profile: Samuel Joseph Byck
Samuel Joseph Byck was a participant or observer in the following events:
Samuel Joseph Byck. [Source: Unknown]Samuel Joseph Byck, an unemployed former tire salesman from Philadelphia, tries to hijack a commercial aircraft with the intent of crashing it into the White House and killing President Richard Nixon, but commits suicide when his attempt runs into difficulties. Byck has focused his resentment on Nixon after being turned down for a loan by the Small Business Administration. He has come up with a plot to assassinate the president, called “Operation Pandora’s Box,” which entails hijacking an airliner and crashing it into the White House on a day when Nixon is there. [Edmund Preston, 1987, pp. 52-53; LA Weekly, 9/12/2001; Weekly View, 4/10/2014]
Man Shoots a Guard before Boarding a Plane - A few hours before making his assassination attempt, Byck mails a tape-recorded message in which he describes his plan to the renowned investigative reporter Jack Anderson. [Casa Grande Dispatch, 7/28/2004] Then, early this morning, he drives to Baltimore-Washington International Airport to carry out the plot. He has with him a revolver and a bomb, which he made using gasoline housed in motor oil bottles and a crude igniter switch. At the airport, without warning, he pulls out the revolver and shoots dead a security guard. He then leaps over the security check and gets onto Delta Air Lines Flight 523 to Atlanta, Georgia, a DC-9, choosing this plane because it is the nearest flight that is ready to take off.
Man Shoots the Pilots and Threatens to Blow Up the Plane - On the plane, Byck orders the pilots to take off immediately. They say they are unable to take off until the wheel blocks have been removed. Frustrated by the delay, Byck shoots the pilots, fatally wounding one of them. In his desperation, he then grabs a passenger and orders her to “fly the plane.” He also threatens to blow up the plane unless a flight attendant closes the door. After a standoff between Byck and the police ensues, a police officer starts firing through the cabin door, and two of his shots hit and wound Byck. Then, as the authorities close in, Byck commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. A briefcase containing the gasoline bomb is subsequently found under his body.
Incident 'Resonates' in American Minds after 9/11 - Following this incident, a bunker will be built deep inside the White House and large guns will be placed on the roof of the White House. A report published by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1987 will note that while Byck “lacked the skill and self-control to reach his target, he had provided a chilling reminder of the potential of violence against civil aviation.” After the attempted assassination occurs, Byck’s plot to kill Nixon will remain little known except within the US Secret Service. But it will again be mentioned in reports after 9/11. Then, one journalist will remark that “the terrifying memory of Samuel Byck’s misguided scheme resonates in every American’s mind whenever the thought of 9/11 visits our nightmares.” And LA Weekly will comment, “In the evolution of terrorism, the use of American commercial airliners as murder weapons was ‘pioneered’ by… Byck.” [Edmund Preston, 1987, pp. 52-53; LA Weekly, 9/12/2001; Weekly View, 4/10/2014]
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