Airplane hijackings have an ominous place in American history -- particularly in NYC.
And, if you think about it, hijacking planes is a very recent phenomenon in the annals of crime. For millennia there has been murdering, thievery, pirating, rape, etc., etc. -- but forceably commandeering aircraft in the sky is only as old as the airplane itself. (Hijacking is something the Wright brothers probably didn't consider when they were inventing air flight, just like the creators of the Internet and social media didn't think those inventions would be used to subvert democracy).
So when was the first airplane hijacking in American history -- and who did it?
Believe it or not, the first such recorded crime was committed by a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers named Len Koeneck. On September 16, 1935, the baseball player had just been released by the team when they were playing in Chicago. Len got on a plane to Detroit where he got good and drunk and attacked the crew. They chained him down and dumped him in Detroit.
Since hijacking had yet to become a feared crime, no one thought it odd that he should then be allowed to get on another flight, this time to Toronto en route to Buffalo (where Len hoped to get back into minor league ball). Again, he got wasted, and this time attacked the pilots and lunged for the controls (apparently hoping to divert the flight directly to Buffalo). A brawl ensued. Len was a big man, hard to fight, and the pilots were frightened that the out of control former Dodger would cause the plane to crash. So one of the pilots slammed him in the head with a fire extinguisher and, due to blunt force trauma, he died. The pilots landed in Toronto and were never charged with a crime.
It's a wild tale: the first hijacking in American history was committed by a professional baseball player -- and was thwarted. And had an NYC connection.
Thankfully Bobby Thomson was still to come almost sixteen years later.